Rating: 3 Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Series/Standalone: Bridgertons #1
How I got this book: Bought
In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable… but not too amiable.
Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.
Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.
The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule...
It's probably no surprise that I, along with a huge number of the population decided to binge-watch Bridgerton while in lockdown over Christmas.
I enjoyed the show, for the most part, more on this below, and wanted to discover more about the origins of these characters. So, I grabbed a copy of The Duke and I and got reading.
This review is going to be a little different than my others as I'd really like to do a comparison of the book and its adaptation.
What I loved/hated about the show:
So, first of all, I loved the fact that this wasn't a completely white-washed show. I want more diversity when watching tv and movies so that it reflects my reality of living with and being surrounded by a variety of different people. The problem is that Bridgerton didn't take it far enough. Yes, they featured some black actors but we didn't get much in terms of other ethnicities, hardly any non-hetero sexuality was explored (don't even get me started with the queer-baiting we got with Benedict) and disability rep was at a zero.
I loved that we had a wonderfully intelligent, fat girl character in Pen, but I am oh so sick of the 'fat girl is miserable and hates her life' take that we get from pretty much every show/movie featuring anyone who isn't a size model.
Okay, so taking a step back, the books are about as white-washed and hetero as you can get. So yes, they did a fair bit with the casting but did they really do enough?
The music was one of my favourite things about the show. Listening to these gorgeous classical pieces and then thinking, oh, that's Girl Like You by Maroon 5 or Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift was really fun.
Penelope & Eloise
Yes, make the fat girl the most interesting and mysterious character in the whole thing, I bloody love it. Pair her with Eloise, a feminist riot and you have a fantastic, memorable pairing that I'd love to see more of.
What I loved/hated about the book:
Two Dimensional Characters
So, for the most part, the characters in the book are way less developed than they seemed to be in the show. Anthony, Colin, Benedict are all props, Lady Danbury speaks a mere couple of lines and features in a scene or two and Daphne has the emotional range of a teaspoon, although the same can be said for her tv character as well.
I loved Violet so much more in the book than in the show. She's a lot sassier and has more depth than she does in the show.
WHERE ARE ELOISE AND PEN???
Where is Marina?
Also, where is Hyacinth's personality in the show because she's hilarious in the book?!
I really enjoyed the language in the book and how the author has modernised and feminised it to make it more contemporary and easily accessible.
What I loved/hated about both:
You can't include a rape scene between the main love interests in a romance novel/show and expect it to be okay.
It doesn't matter that it was a woman taking advantage of a man. It doesn't matter if he was drunk (actually, this makes it worse). It doesn't matter if he changes his mind about wanting children later, and it doesn't matter if he was too caught up in the passion to pull out. The goddam point is that he said no. Explicitly. Multiple times. Before and after they got married.
She also (in the book) knew the exact reason, the trauma and abuse he had faced as a child that led to that decision and still, she took advantage. For the author to then try to pass this off later with both Daphne and Simon thinking to themselves that 'it wasn't as bad as all that' is really shocking and at complete odds with the feminist, modern take on the rest of the book.
I think that this scene is much worse in the book because Simon is drunk, but the show should have removed it entirely. Far better for Simon to have eventually felt accepted and loved enough (both by Daphne and himself) to change his own mind and make that choice willingly or, you know, just don't have kids. A couple can be a family without children being involved.
Anyway, it's for this scene that I just couldn't rate the book higher than I have, and in fact probably shouldn't have rated the book at all. I'm only rating it on the basis that, if that scene were removed I would have actually liked this book a whole lot more and I enjoyed the adaptation significantly more than the book itself.
Rating: 4 Stars
How I got this book: Bought
Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new--the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he's never really dated before.
Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.
Kai Sheridan didn't expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there's more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he's awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this "relationship" will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight . . . right?
TW: Racism, homophobia (violence & religion)
This book grabbed me from page one.
I absolutely loved the "fake boyfriend" trope in a YA format, and I think the author did a fantastic job of making it both believable and realistic.
I adore the main characters in this book.
At first, Kai is a complete wallflower. He's shy and reserved as he struggles to keep his secret from the world, but all that changes when he angrily (you'll find out why) asks Bryson Keller, the most popular boy in school, out on a date.
It's so much fun to see Kai come out of his shell as he starts to feel comfortable with who he is.
“I’m not joking,” I say. “Date me, Bryson Keller!”
Bryson is just as sweet as Kai and takes Kai's request in his stride. After all, he can't lose his dare, even if he doesn't believe in relationships.
Together, Kai and Bryson are adorable. They form a strong friendship, and support and care for each other through the hardships they each face.
"He breaks then. Whoever says that boys don’t cry—or shouldn’t cry—needs to walk off a very short pier into a shark-infested ocean."
The first half of this book is great. Kai's friends and family seem brilliant and supportive, and there's the strong feeling that all will work out in the end.
This book is definitely one for fans of Becky Abertalli's, Simon vs The Homo Sapien's Agenda, but one thing I adored about this book that I hated about Love Simon, are the best friends! They're so damn supportive and just brilliant, something that was truly lacking in Simon vs.
Sadly, the book takes a darker turn during the second half, and there's a lot of pain for both Kai and Bryson to deal with. I almost hate the author's choice to include this drama as it feels like too much on too many fronts, and the story would have been so damn sweet and beautiful without it.
I get that it's a coming-out story, and coming out is tough. Hell, I'm almost 30, and I'm still only open with a few select people in my life. But, for once, I'd love a sweet LGBT YA without all the pain and drama from a-holes who should never be forgiven for the crap they pull.
"Gay means happy, too, you know."
But saying all that, going through what they do does make the relationship stronger and drives the reader's compassion and need for everything to work out in the end.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, my first by this author, and I'm really looking forward to reading what they do next.
Just be prepared, if you cry easily, as I do, you'll definitely want to have some tissues to hand towards the end of the book.
"As my world burns down around me. This, right here, is enough."
Rating: 4 STARS
How I got this book: Bought
On the eve of her divining, the day she'll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.
Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn't understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.
They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate...
Review by Sophie
TW: Slavery, discrimination, attempted rape, animal abuse.
They say the thirst of blood is like a madness - they must sate it. Even with their own kin.
Okay, so first things first, I TOTALLY chose this book purely on the look of the front cover. I loved the whole slightly Gothic and dark feel the design gave off, and so I jumped straight in.
Before starting, I had no idea that it was kind of a retelling of Dracula, but from his brides’ point of view. This is a story of sisterhood, female love and relationships, and the utter brutality that is life. It's about bravery and heartfelt sorrow. I love the idea, and its an intriguing back story, although I just wish this book was a little longer with a few more chapters to give it that depth that I feel it's ever so slightly missing.
First, we meet Lil, I love how she’s so harmless and sweet, living in the shadow of her twin and more than happy to let her fiery and passionate sister Kizzy make the decisions and run towards danger.
On the day that they are captured into slavery, Lillai is anticipating the outcome of her diving day to see what future awaits her and Kizzy. The girls are part of a small group of travellers who keep to themselves and appreciate what nature provides for them. I like how the writer describes and really shows the hate and discrimination towards travellers, how others perceive them as being lesser, not deserving common decency, and sadly this rings true as an issue not just in fiction.
I absolutely love the character personalities in this book. You have Kizzy and Lil who appear to be like yin and yang, the strong and fearless mixed with the shy, quiet and easy-going. Then we meet Mira, a slave who’s truly been brutalised and tortured, yet still manages to find kindness in her heart, especially towards Lil. Their relationship is cute and heartwarming, and honestly just makes you melt.
Soon we meet the cruel and heartless Boyar Valcar and hear whispers of the Dragon, known to be myth and legend. I was a bit annoyed that there wasn’t more detail surrounding these characters. I know the story is intended to focus on the girls, but I would have really liked more detail surrounding the Dragon, just to give a better idea of him and his personality.
Now, if you’re lucky enough to have a sister or best friend, you can appreciate and completely relate to the bond and relationship that Kizzy and Lil have. How they endlessly defend each other and have a mutual understanding of how the other feels.
I really liked reading The Deathless Girls, it was easy going in terms of pace, perhaps a little too easy-going maybe? I think it only took me a day to finish. It has a good flow and pace, and the ending really just leaves you wanting more.
I'll be completely honest and say that I did expect and want more than this book delivered. I felt that there was some detail missing and it wasn’t quite as dark as I had anticipated. However, the ending was brilliant, and somehow still caught me off guard.
I really hope that there’s more to come from The Deathless Girls.
Rating: 4 STARS
Series/Standalone: Tales from Verania #2
How I got this book: Bought
Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever.
Life is good.
Until it’s not.
Because Vadoma, the leader of the Gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.
And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv.
Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone.
It would seem that I'm having a bit of a TJ Klune marathon at the moment since I just can't stop reading his books...even after finishing this I immediately started one of his contemporary romances. He's JUST SO GOOD, I CAN'T STOP!
Anyway, back to the book at hand.
A Destiny of Dragons is book two in the Tales of Verania fantasy series by TJ Klune. If you haven't read book one yet, feel free to check out my review of The Lightning Struck Heart.
A Destiny of Dragons starts with a rather foreboding prologue that, since finishing this book, I have a really, really, really bad feeling about but I'm trying not to think of it so that I don't cry, but Chapter One picks up not too long after where we left things in book one and it immediately falls back into TJ's hilarious rhythm, with Sam trying to show Justin how much he cares before being hit on by a stranger and discovered by a posing Ryan. I really loved being back with the insane Verania crew who I can't seem to get enough of.
The best thing about this book is 'Sam's New Destiny (capitalised so it must be true)' as much as he hates and complains about it, for the following reasons:
ALL THE FEELS!
As always TJ Klune manages to blend this incredible mixture of awesome magic and magical creatures with outrageous, very crude humour and so much emotion you feel like your heart might just burst.
Sam is on another adventure that he didn't ask for and with the help (and hindrance) of some new characters he still handles it with his classic 'Sam' attitude:
"Finally, I did the only thing a person could do if they were in my position and faced with a gigantic hill monster after having been bad-touched by an old lady into the middle of the woods. I waved and said, “Heeeyyy there.”
As with The Lightning Struck Heart, A Destiny of Dragons takes us on a journey across Verania, with some amazing new places to discover this time around.
However, where the first book in the series delivered very over-the-top comedy, this book didn't have quite the same carefree feel. Things are different for Sam, things are darker, harder and more difficult with much more at stake for Sam and the people of Verania. In this book we see strains on friendship and fear that strikes at Sam's heart, and the hearts of those around him.
I'm really excited and nervous to see how things play out in the rest of the series as there's promise of a lot of dark, depressing shit (there was a point in this book that I was so very close to crying) and I'm completely on edge having no idea what's going to happen next. I really don't think it'll be long before I read book three!
So, to finish, I'm going to leave you with one of my favourite quotes from this book, a little pearl of Sam wisdom:
"You can’t hide your head in the sand without expecting your ass to get burned.”
Rating: 3.5 STARS
How I got this book: Bought
Justin knows three things for sure about DJ Dangerfield:
He has some questionable taste in music.
He always provokes Justin into ringing in.
And he might just be his favorite weekly distraction.
But who is this DJ Dangerfield in Real Life? And will Justin like him in the flesh as much as on the air?
This was a really short read, I think I read it in less than an hour. It's an M/M college novella and it was seriously cute.
I love Anyta Sunday's writing. She creates believable, adorable characters and her chemistry sizzles off the page.
DJ Dangerfield was such a fun book and did exactly what I wanted by taking my mind off reality and cheering me up after a pretty bad day.
3.5 HEA-guaranteed stars from me!
Rating: 4 STARS
Genre: Historical/Gothic Romance
Standalone/Series: Dark Gothic #1
How I got this book: Bought
Betrayed by those she trusted, penniless and alone, Darcie Finch is forced to accept a position that no one else dares, as assistant to dangerously attractive Dr. Damien Cole. Ignoring the whispered warnings and rumours that he's a man to fear, she takes her position at his eerie estate, where she quickly discovers that nothing is at it seems, least of all her handsome and brooding employer. As Darcie struggles with her fierce attraction to Damien, she must also deal with the blood, the disappearances ... and the murders.
With her options dwindling and time running out, Darcie must rely on her instincts as she confronts the man she falling in love with. Is he an innocent and misunderstood man ... or a remorseless killer who prowls the East End streets?
I'm a bit under the weather at the moment so this review will be a bit shorter than usual because I can barely stay awake right now.
I came across this book for free via BookBub and was intrigued by the synopsis. I haven't read anything by this author before so I wasn't sure what to expect.
The book is fantastic! I quickly fell under its spell and found myself getting lost in the dark plot. The easiest way for me to describe this book is sort of Downton Abbey meets Jack the Ripper with plenty of romance.
The main character Darcie is a very feminist character. Having dealt with a lot of pain, misery and betrayal in her past, she still manages to keep her head high whilst forging on with her life. Damien is dark, mysterious and brooding, and I love the suspense and tension that builds in both their relationship and through the very creepy plot.
I love the writing, the pace was fantastic and I'm excited to continue reading this series!
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
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5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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