Forever Favourites ~ A Court of Mist and Fury & A Court of Wings and Ruin ~ #JNGReads

I don’t want to talk about it.

I don’t think I can talk about it at the moment.

Today, I’ve decided to take the role of curator rather than reviewer. It would be very easy for me to go on and on ranting about why Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series is so brilliant…but none of it would be coherent whatsoever. Read my initial review of the first novel in the series, A Court of Thorns and Roses itself, and you’ll see why. I could barely form logical sentences upon finishing that one, and now, after spending another month immersed in the world of Prythian, journeying beside Feyre and Rhysand…well, I have nothing concise or legible to write. My brain is basically mush and has been since I finished the third novel in the series, A Court of Wings and Ruin, this afternoon in the Starbucks steps away from my home. Never mind that – my heart is mush. The story was touching on so many levels, the chapters towards the end were mind-blowing and heart wrenching, and I think what has me most emotional of all is the fact that it’s all over. I was lucky in that I picked up this series when all three novels were already completed and released, so that I could read them in rapid succession – I say that I was lucky because I didn’t have to wait months or even years before continuing on Feyre’s path with her, and yet, in some ways, I don’t feel lucky at all. I didn’t have to wait, but I also didn’t get to wait. Everything happened so fast, it was an utter whirlwind – I first entered Feyre’s world less than two months ago, and then I lived and breathed in it, got down in the trenches beside her, and now, after so short a time literally but so long and involved a time figuratively, my adventure has come to an end. And yes, I can reread the series endlessly for the rest of my life, but it will never be new for me again, and that is a sad and somewhat nauseating fact.

But, as I said, I don’t have anything productive to say about this series, nothing at all that hasn’t been said by other readers before me. So, instead, I am choosing to present to you some of the quotes I marked during my reading experience, those moments that truly touched me and that I will carry around with me for the rest of my reader’s life. These passages speak for themselves – no commentary is necessary – and it is my honour to present them to you as evidence of why the ACOTAR series is so one of a kind and enthralling. So much of what makes the series incredible is the way that Maas narrates through Feyre, the cadence and rhythm and actual poetry of Feyre’s inner musings and ruminations. It is so very easy to feel as though you are becoming a part of her consciousness, becoming her dear friend and confidante.

A note before all that though: I gushed and raved about A Court of Thorns and Roses the novel after finishing it, and I still think it is brilliant. However, A Court of Mist and Fury and A Court of Wings and Ruin have so much more to offer, the world grows so much larger and becomes more all encompassing, and I must admit that I fell in love with the series when I was in the midst of the second novel. I have to say it: I am Team Rhysand all the way, but not because I am comparing him to Tamlin or because I don’t believe in Feyre’s love for Tamlin and the connection they had. No, I am Team Rhysand, I am so enamoured with that High Lord of the Night Court, because he is Feyre’s true match, because he is her soul mate in every sense of the word, because he lifts her up, literally gives her wings and forces her to battle her demons, raise her voice, stand tall and become the defiant, strong and remarkably inspiring woman she is destined to be. I mentioned in my last blog post that being a man’s mate, for me, as a woman about to be married, means not succumbing to him, being submissive, subservient, quietly protected. For me, it means standing tall, being his protector as much as his protected. Choosing a mate, for me, means finding a man who will support me and who will stand in my corner as I fight my own battles. And Rhysand does just that for Feyre – he makes her his High Lady because he believes in her power, her ability to handle herself, and because he treats her as his true equal, as she rightfully deserves. What’s more, he helps her through her struggles with anxiety and depression, he urges her out of her shell and gives her the space and security to rebuild herself, stone by stone, until she is healed and whole again. As someone who suffers from anxiety and relies heavily on my own mate to navigate through it on a daily basis, I appreciated how gently but affectionately Rhysand helps Feyre through her traumatic experiences. This sort of relationship, of mutual trust and respect, is what we all need as an example in today’s society.

I offer to you, now, the passages in A Court of Mist and Fury and A Court of Wings and Ruin that utterly took my breath away…

A Court of Mist and Fury

*“‘You are no one’s subject….I will say this once–and only once…You can be a pawn, be someone’s reward, and spend the rest of your immortal life bowing and scraping and pretending you’re less than him…If you want to pick that road, then fine. A shame, but it’s your choice…But I know you – more than you realize, I think – and I don’t believe for one damn minute that you’re remotely fine with being a pretty trophy for someone…’”

*“Feminine, soft, pretty. I hadn’t felt like those things in a long, long while. Hadn’t wanted to.”

*“I tried not to flinch away from meeting his stare. ‘She’s mine…And if any of you lay a hand on her, you lose that hand. And then you lose your head…And once Feyre is done killing you…then I’ll grind your bones to dust.’”

*“If I hadn’t been already in love with him, I might have loved him for that – for not insisting I stay, even if it drove his instincts mad, for not locking me away in the aftermath of what had happened yesterday.

And I realized – I realized how badly I’d been treated before, if my standards had become so low. If the freedom I’d been granted felt like a privilege and not an inherent right.

Rhys’ eyes darkened, and I knew he read what I thought, felt. ‘You might be my mate,’ he said, ‘but you remain your own person. You decide your fate – your choices. Not me. You chose yesterday. You choose every day. Forever.’”

A Court of Wings and Ruin

*“I wasn’t sure I’d been born with the ability to forgive. Not for terrors inflicted on those I loved. For myself, I didn’t care – not nearly as much. But there was some fundamental pillar of steel in me that could not bend or break in this. Could not stomach the idea of letting these people get away with what they’d done.”

*“‘And you are High Lady of the Night Court.’

‘Indeed she is.’

My blood stopped at the voice that drawled from behind me.

At the scent that hit me, awoke me. My friends began smiling.

I turned.

Rhysand leaned against the archway into the sitting room, arms crossed, wings nowhere to be seen, dressed in his usual immaculate black jacket and pants.

And as those violet eyes met mine, as that familiar half smile faded…

My face crumpled. A small, broken noise cracked from me.

Rhys was instantly moving, but my legs had already given out. The foyer carpet cushioned the impact as I sank to my knees.

I covered my face with my hands while the past month crashed into me.

Rhys knelt before me, knee to knee.”

*“It’s all right, Rhys soothed. This place cannot hold you.”

*“I do not let you do anything…You are your own person, you make your own choices. But we are mates – I am yours, and you are mine. We do not let each other do things, as if we dictate the movements of each other. But…I might have insisted I go with you. More for my own mental well-being, just to know you were safe.

*“‘You do not fear…You do not falter. You do not yield….Remember that you are a wolf. And you cannot be caged.’”

*“I would have waited five hundred more years for you. A thousand years. And if this was all the time we were allowed to have…The wait was worth it.”

It speaks for itself, right?

A Court of Mist and Fury: ❥❥❥❥❥ (out of 5) ~ A new favourite!

A Court of Wings and Ruin: ❥❥❥❥❥ (out of 5) ~ A new favourite!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

My Literary Maidens

Apologies are in order…big time!

I am so so sorry that I have been MIA on the blog for almost a month. Trust me, I get it – this is no way to show my appreciation for all you lovely readers!

However, allow me to promise you that a giant, mammoth of a book review is on its way VERY soon. If you follow along with me on Goodreads, or if you read my last blog post, you’ll know that I’ve been buried deep in the world of Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series for quite a while now. That’s the reason for my lack of posts – I’ve been so enthralled with my reading, so eager to delve into my book and not put it down for the entire night, that I haven’t actually had anything else to review (although I know this is no excuse, considering I could’ve offered you some lifestyle posts in the meantime – massive apologies again!). I even chose to skip right past writing a review for the second novel in the series, A Court of Mist and Fury, because I just wanted to blaze right into the third book instead. And, I did exactly that – I am about two hundred pages away from completing A Court of Wings and Ruin, and my heart is already breaking at the thought. I have so enjoyed living in this world, with Feyre and all of her friends, and I simply do not want it to end. Hence why I have been reading extremely slooowly, savoring every last sentence and image and adventure.

Anyway, that’s a discussion for another time – and I swear, a book review of the entire ACOTAR series is on its way.

Having said that, when I realized a few days ago that I haven’t posted anything here in almost a month, I was horrified! I knew I had to get something out to you, and I also knew that I needed to exercise my writing muscles again, lest they get out of practice. So, on to a bit of a different topic… Here is another wedding-related post for you all…

“You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking, and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated.”

~ Pygmalion

Left to right: Lady Camille, JNG, Lady Courtney and Lady Kailah ❥

I count myself well and truly lucky to have some of the most wonderful friends a girl could ask for. My three best friends, my maidens, my bridesmaids, are among the most inspiring, beautiful and kind women I have ever known, and not only are they a constant source of pride for me, they also treat me with this unwavering respect and love. At times it is overwhelming to fully comprehend how loyal and dedicated they are to me and to our friendships, and they have each been the most incredible helpers throughout my wedding planning experience so far. To borrow from the idea presented in the quote above, my bridesmaids treat me like an absolute queen and make me feel so remarkably special, and I will forever be grateful for that. I cannot wait to return the favour at each of their own weddings! (Note: You can read a detailed post introducing and describing each one of my bridesmaids here.)

Not a single thing in the world could persuade me to change the three women I selected as my bridesmaids because they are the most perfect women that ever walked the planet. Having said that, there is one thing that could persuade me to increase their number – to add a few more ladies to my maiden fold – and that would be if my three favourite females from literature could jump out of the pages of their individual works and become real-life women. I recently found myself thinking about this, wondering which three heroines I would select to join myself and my bridesmaids in all of the wedding planning and events. And, there was absolutely no question – three literary heroines popped into my mind without hesitation, and I truly believe each of these women would fit in so well with my three best friends because they are all quite alike. I like to think I keep very good company, and I believe that even these women of the fictional world would adore my real-life bridesmaids instantly, and vice versa.

~ So, here we have it, my selections for My Literary Maidens (in no particular order, of course). ~

Jane Eyre

“Reader, I forgave him at the moment and on the spot. There was such deep remorse in his eye, such true pity in his tone, such manly energy in his manner; and besides, there was such unchanged love in his whole look and mien—I forgave him all…”

Was there any doubt that Jane Eyre was going to be on this list? Well, there shouldn’t have been. Jane Eyre is the one literary character that I will always owe so much of my personality, my morals and my convictions to. If I wasn’t such a chicken, I’d already have this Charlotte Brontë inspired tattoo on my skin that I’ve been dreaming up for years now, because that authoress is someone I will forever be indebted to. Jane Eyre, and the novel named after her, taught me so much about love, about soul mates, and about sacrifice. She presented a strong and dignified example to me at the most critical time in my life, when I was just leaving high school, and her story emphasized to me that it is possible to find an all-encompassing love that consumes but does not overcome you. Jane Eyre taught me that love is not an easy road, that there are countless obstacles on the way to finding it and also within a relationship, but that True Love means forgiveness, it means being strong enough to stand up for your love, to fight for it. To have Jane Eyre stand beside me on my wedding day would mean having a true role model in my midst, it would mean acknowledging that fortitude is an aspect of True Love that I will always apply in my own life.

Clare Abshire

“I go to sleep alone, and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I’m tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that’s been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple until you think about it. Why is love intensified by absence?”

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a novel that I also read when I was finishing up high school, and it is without doubt on par with Jane Eyre in my green heart. Clare Abshire is a source of undeniable inspiration in that novel, if only because she is constantly waiting for her love (time traveler, Henry DeTamble) to come home to her. Clare puts up with a lot of turmoil and tragedy in her relationship with Henry, and she faces every obstacle with unfailing resolve and impenetrable will. She is the very definition of a strong woman, and she has always been a model for me of how to overcome jealousy, uncertainty and insecurity. Clare is so confident in Henry’s love for her that she doesn’t let the little things, like ex-girlfriends in his life, or even the big things, like his regular absence, to get to her. She has a lot to face and get through in loving Henry, but she tackles each situation with a calm that is utterly remarkable. Clare Abshire taught me that love means being patient, it means waiting for The One and then hanging onto him through thick and thin, being his rock, his anchor. To have Clare Abshire stand beside me on my wedding day would mean acknowledging that True Love really can conquer all, and that the right love will survive all obstacles of time and distance.

Eliza Doolittle

“Aha! Now I know how to deal with you. What a fool I was not to think of it before! You can’t take away the knowledge you gave me….Oh, when I think of myself crawling under your feet and being trampled on and called names, when all the time I had only to lift up my finger to be as good as you, I could just kick myself.”

I admit, it was a bit trickier for me to come up with my third literary bridesmaid…but only for about two seconds. Then, it dawned on me, what better bridesmaid to have than the original flower girl, Eliza Doolittle of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. Eliza isn’t your classic romantic heroine whatsoever, and that’s what makes her a character that taught me so very much about love and relationships. I read Pygmalion for the first time after starting university, but I’ve been a fan of My Fair Lady since I was something like 6 years old, so Eliza Doolittle has always been a mentor to me. And what a remarkable and unique woman she is – Eliza Doolittle is a woman who does not stand down, who is not flattened or trampled on by any of the men around her. Although she is fond of her professor Henry Higgins, she refuses to have her personality muddled or diluted by him, and she is an absolute force to be reckoned with. Her main objective throughout the entire play is to better herself, to lift herself up in society, and while her pseudo-partner Higgins assists her on her journey and gives her the tools to be a better version of herself, she is the one who gets down and dirty, who battles every day with society’s expectations and uses her indomitable will and strength to get ahead and make a name for herself. Eliza Doolittle is one of the strongest female characters that exists in literature, and that comes from her defiance of societal norms and her desire to question and interrogate the social structures around her. To have Eliza Doolittle stand beside me on my wedding day would mean acknowledging that True Love does NOT mean losing your identity or becoming a mere domestic goddess. It would mean acknowledging that being a woman in love, being a wife, does NOT mean giving up on your dreams or stifling your passions. It would mean proclaiming that the right husband, the right partner, will give you wings to fly and build your own name, for yourself.

With friends like these, how could a girl go wrong? My three real-life best friends and my three fictional ones are the pillars of my personality, the puzzle pieces that go together perfectly to make me into the woman I am today, the one that my fiancé fell in love with. Without each of them, I would be nowhere close to who I am at this moment, and I am so honoured that each of them will play a part in my Big Day…because believe me, I plan to make Jane and Clare and Eliza a real presence on my wedding day, even if they can’t be there in person…so stay tuned for posts about that in the future!

See you all again very soon, I promise!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

A Truly Unexpected Favourite ~ A Court of Thorns and Roses ~ #JNGReads

What on Earth did I just read?!?!?!

I rarely do this. I rarely sit down and write a review only moments after finishing a book, especially if it’s after 10:00pm on a weekday, but this time, I just couldn’t resist.

I am in shock – complete and utter, mind-bending, soul-altering shock – from what I experienced. Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow.

I have to admit, I was expecting to enjoy Sarah J. Maas’ novel A Court of Thorns and Roses. Read the description of it, online, on Goodreads, anywhere you can find it – it is a novel right up my alley: a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with a strong and defiant heroine, battling it out against unique and terrifying villains, all in the hopes of saving her beloved. Sign me up. My only source of hesitation when picking up the novel was its genre – fantasy is not my thing whatsoever (Unpopular opinion time: I struggle to get through episodes of Game of Thrones that my fiancé finds incredible and heart wrenching, because I find that show DULL!), and so I had this feeling that I would like ACOTAR, but that I wouldn’t love it.

Well, I was freakin’ wrong on all accounts, and I am more shocked than anyone about it (except, perhaps, for my fiancé who can’t believe that a book of high fantasy had me gasping and writhing on our couch). Holy ****, I don’t even know how to describe what I’ve just experienced. This book is INCREDIBLE and I LOVED it!!!

Okay, how to put into words the emotions that are currently swirling in my chest… I have no idea. I need to try to be calm and rational about this, but it is so so hard, and if you’ve heard of ACOTAR at all or read any reviews, you’ll know why I’m so shaken. It is just that good. Like I said, I was NOT expecting to react this strongly or be this sucked into a fantasy world, but Maas’ writing is so intricate and detailed and consuming that I couldn’t stop myself from being overtaken. And more than that, I am completely overwhelmed by the story – it delivered every possible emotion; I felt horror and fear and anxiety and joy and love; it was romantic and funny and suspenseful and terrifying. It was everything, absolutely EVERYTHING that literature and fiction should be because it effortlessly transported me to another world. I was so enveloped in Feyre’s world that I almost forgot where I was at times, that I was able to ignore my real-life anxieties and obligations and go on a wonderful and awesome adventure. This, this, is what reading is all about!

Alright, let me try to properly articulate what I loved about A Court of Thorns and Roses… Everything!!! No, focus, be more detailed than that…

~ I loved the world, the setting. This surprised me more than anything. As I mentioned, I’m not one for all that fantasy stuff, and although I don’t mind reading about a fairy every now and then, I can’t say that I crave entering mythical or magical lands all that often. Having said that, Maas creates a world that is recognizable and relatable, but tinged with just enough magic to make it intriguing. Fantasy truly is the perfect word for it because I felt like Prythian was the ideal place to live, full of human comforts and familiarity, but also laced with wonders and immense beauty. I totally felt like I was living there because Maas’ descriptions were so breathtaking, and to be frank, I’d like to head back there right now.

~ I loved Feyre. I’ve heard criticism of her, and I’ll admit that I was SUPER annoyed when she couldn’t figure out the simplest riddle in all of existence, but she kick assed and I loved it! She is a strong, defiant and utterly brave female character, and she is about a million times more resourceful and resilient than her male counterparts. This is the type of female character that we need in this day and age, and when things got ridiculously intense at the end of the novel, I was on Feyre’s side every step of the way. I think she made all the right decisions, and I was in awe of her heart and her passion. I like to think that I’m similar to her in many ways, in my loyalty above all things, and she really did inspire me to stand tall and walk with my chin held high under all circumstances. Go Feyre!

~ I loved Rhysand. This is probably shameful, but this is where I’m at by the end of this epic novel. I don’t understand Rhysand, I have no real idea what he’s up to or what’s going on, but I like him. He’s mysterious and I just know that he’s misunderstood and has a kind heart way underneath his pale skin, and I’m sorry, but any time I sense even a bit of Mr. Rochester in a male character, I’m going to fall for him. It’s complicated, definitely, but I feel like something good is happening between him and Feyre, so I’m just going to go with it. He was there for her when it counted, when no one else was, and for that, I give him points. And, also, this scene…I mean, come on, I didn’t stand a chance…

“The pain shot through my bones again, and through my increasing hysteria, I heard words inside my head that stopped me short.

Don’t let her see you cry.

Put your hands at your sides and stand up.

I couldn’t. I couldn’t move.

Stand. Don’t give her the satisfaction of seeing you break.

My knees and spine, not entirely of my own will, forced me upright, and when the ground at last stopped moving, I looked at Amarantha with tearless eyes.

Good, Rhysand told me. Stare her down. No tears – wait until you’re back in your cell.

….Good girl. Now walk away. Turn on your heel – good. Walk toward the door. Keep your chin high. Let the crowd part. One step after another.

I listened to him, let him keep me tethered to sanity…”

~ I wanted to love Tamlin. I think I was supposed to love him, but in typical Victorian heroine fashion, I let a more interesting male character distract me. Tamlin was bland, if I’m honest, and he didn’t really do much of anything. Even his “romantic” interactions with Feyre weren’t all that spicy or intoxicating. However, I understand that it was important for him to be the likable good guy in order for Feyre’s willingness to die for him to be believable. If anything, though, I saw him as more of a plot device to get Feyre Under the Mountain, and that was just fine – but, the fact is, I’m not enamoured with him and I’m more interested in Feyre’s personal journey in the coming books than with her relationship with him.

~ I loved this entire reading experience. I can’t emphasize enough that A Court of Thorns and Roses delivers exactly what every reader should want: a true escape. I was whisked away to an entirely different realm and I was absorbed for every single second of my journey. The final third of the novel is full of such suspense and agony and uncertainty that I was actually shaken and left totally unnerved. I found it hard to concentrate on anything else, or even to sleep, because I kept dwelling on Feyre’s dilemma – it was that intense.

This reading experience was passionate for me, all encompassing and profound, and I am so glad that I decided to buy the second and third installment of the series this past weekend so I can dive back into the story right away. There must’ve been flaws with this novel, I’m sure there were, but I can’t even think about them because I’m too overjoyed and excited about how intricate the story was and how many new friends I’ve made in its pages. This reading experience was simply breathtaking, and I would highly recommend A Court of Thorns and Roses to any reader that wants to get away for awhile and be consumed by a world both different from and yet satisfyingly similar to our own.

On to the next novel – but seriously, I’m cracking open its spine tonight!

❥❥❥❥❥ (out of 5) ~ A new favourite!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

Miss You – #JNGReads …and JNG Lives

Miss You by Kate Eberlen is a novel I am finding it very difficult to review, for several reasons.  The first is that I believe the novel is incorrectly branded, and this necessarily lowered my overall rating of the novel.  Due largely to the blurb on the back of the book, as well as the quotes included on it from other authors (such as one from one of my favourite chick lit. writers, Sophie Kinsella), I had certain expectations when I purchased Eberlen’s story, and, to be perfectly honest, it met none of them.  This isn’t exactly a bad thing, but I do feel that it is slightly dishonest to promote a story as a romance when in fact it features very few romantic elements.  If Miss You were instead labelled a family drama or a coming-of-age story, I think readers of it would have a better sense of what is to come in their reading journey and experience, and this would’ve definitely improved my review, if only because I would’ve modified my expectations to the genre.  In any case, there was one particular aspect of the story that touched me profoundly, and so I increased my overall rating as a result of that element – but more on that in a moment…

To go back to my first point, my main criticism of the novel… Why do I feel that Miss You is not a romance?  Well, because it isn’t.  I don’t think many readers would disagree with this assessment.  It is compared to David Nicholls’ One Day, a novel that Eberlen actually mentions in her own, and yet, while One Day focuses almost entirely on the romance between its main characters, Dex and Emma, using their individual life experiences to further their romantic relationship in some places and simultaneously indicate to the reader why they are perfect for each other, Miss You focuses most of its attention on the individual lives and tragedies and struggles of Tess and Gus, but very rarely exposes why they would be romantically compatible.  Although Tess and Gus are often in the same place at the same time and do indeed miss each other on multiple occasions, there is no reason to believe that they are meant to be together romantically.  They didn’t even seem to have very similar interests, in my opinion – Gus is a doctor, with a passion for cooking and art, and Tess is a pseudo-English literature student and aspiring writer.  Certainly, they both enjoy culture and adore London life, but their interests and hobbies are not exactly identical.  This is not to say that people need to have the same talents and ambitions to be romantically involved, obviously, but in most cases, I found it very difficult to even recognize that they were missing each other because attention wasn’t always drawn to the fact that they were in the same place.  If the novel is supposed to be about two people constantly missing each other, I think more emphasis should’ve been placed on those moments throughout the novel, rather than summarizing them neatly at the end, as Eberlen chooses to do.  The one aspect of Tess and Gus’ lives that is similar is that they both deal with the loss of a close loved one, and I did get the sense that they could’ve greatly aided each other in the grieving process.  Having said that, did I feel like Tess and Gus were soul mates?  Definitely not, and although they did miss each other frequently, I never really felt frustrated by that fact because their lives seemed wholly separate and barely intertwined anyway.

Despite the fact that there was hardly anything romantic about Miss You, as I said before, there was one element of Tess’s life specifically that totally absorbed my attention.  Much of Tess’s life centers on her mother’s battle with breast and ovarian cancer and the weight these diseases represent in Tess’s own life.  At a certain point in the novel, Tess gets information about the BRCA 1 and 2 genetic mutations that drastically increase a woman’s risk of acquiring breast and ovarian cancer, and many chapters explore Tess’s fear and anxiety with regards to cancer and her chances of battling it within her lifetime.

This is a topic that is very close to my own heart and which caused me to have a highly emotional and visceral response to Tess’s story in Miss You.  My maternal grandmother suffered from breast and ovarian cancer and passed away at the relatively young age of 57 because of her struggles with the disease.  My mother and I have consequently been involved for many years in screening programs at one of the most reputable hospitals in Toronto, and a few years ago, my mother was approached to have genetic testing done to see if she carried one of the BRCA mutations.  It turns out that she tested positive for the BRCA 1 mutation, which increased her risk of breast and ovarian cancer to astonishing and terrifying degrees.  She opted, with the knowledge and understanding of her mother’s battle with cancer, to have a hysterectomy and a prophylactic mastectomy.  Although she did not have breast or ovarian cancer, she chose to electively have the surgeries as preventative measures (in much the same way as Angelina Jolie did years ago, in case any of you are familiar with that story), and I am so proud and happy that she did because it was one of my greatest fears that I would have to watch my mother go through such a horrible battle with such an awful disease.

Now, I am in Tess’s position in that I myself have a 50% chance of carrying the BRCA 1 mutation.  Since I am still very young when it comes to breast and ovarian cancer, I have decided to hold off on genetic testing because, at this time, I could not have any of the preventative surgeries and my screenings would not change at all.  However, I know that one day I will have to be tested and, since I am a glass half empty sort of person, I have convinced myself that I am positive.  What most touched me about Tess’s experience with the BRCA mutations, though, was the moment in the novel when she receives her own genetic testing results.  Without giving too much away, Tess does think about being positive and tries to mentally prepare herself for that result, but she also discusses the fact that she doesn’t feel she could ever be fully prepared to hear that she is positive for a genetic mutation of this magnitude.  That led me to believe that, although I tell myself every single day that I am positive, I will never feel the impetus to deal with that outcome until I hear it confirmed from a doctor’s mouth.  That was an interesting personal revelation for me.  Tess’s honesty and her forthright narration of her fears and uncertainties felt so similar to my own, that I became convinced that Eberlen must’ve faced genetic testing herself or is at least very close to someone who has.  Eberlen’s treatment of cancer and its implications is touching and detailed, but also sensitive and respectful, and I don’t think I will ever forget reading Miss You because of it.

As I said, for all of the reasons I discuss above, it is very hard for me to rate Miss You.  It didn’t deliver what I expected at all, and yet in some ways, it offered so much more.  Although I wasn’t drawn into Tess and Gus’ romantic endeavors, I was touched by their individual family lives, and so I would recommend Miss You as a novel about family love, rather than love of the romantic variety.  And, for any women who have encountered breast and/or ovarian cancer in their lives, I HIGHLY recommend it!

❥❥❥❥ (out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

The Boy is Back – #JNGReads

“But I have to tell someone:

I love him.

I still love him, now more than ever.

And it’s killing me!

He is killing me. Every time he says my name, or looks my way, every time he laughs, even if he’s only telling one of his stupid jokes about his parents’ idiotic World’s Greatest Grandparents mugs, he is taking my heart, pulling it out of my chest, crumpling it into a little ball, and stuffing it into his pocket, as casually as if it were a napkin he’d used to wipe his mouth.” ~ The Boy is Back

The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot is a FABULOUS novel! I was tempted at first to only give it 4 stars because it isn’t my favourite chick lit. novel of the year so far (that award must go to Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, which is going to be a tough novel to beat, honestly), but then I thought to myself, wait a second, this novel was fun, funny, addictive, entertaining, romantic and well-written, so what more would it have to do to earn 5 stars? Nothing, absolutely nothing, so a 5-star rating it deserves!

Let’s start with the obviously awesome things about this novel…

~ The title. I love it! There’s something so simple yet emotional about it – four little words convey something profound and yet so mundane. The “boy”, in this case prodigal son Reed Stewart, has returned to his hometown of Bloomville, Indiana, and this seemingly everyday occurrence shakes up protagonist Becky Flowers’ life irreversibly. I was intrigued by the title the moment I read it, and I knew at once that this story would be nostalgic and sentimental and delicious!

~ The cover. How beautiful is it?  (Check out my Goodreads page to see it!)  The bright yellow is what caught my attention when I saw it in the store, and it is just so fresh and lively that I couldn’t resist picking the book up. It just screams that it is the perfect summer read, which it is!

~ The format. Written entirely through text messages, emails, newspaper articles and other forms of social media, this novel is truly unique. After flipping through a few pages in the store once I picked the book up, I was immediately interested in finding out whether or not a story written in this format could be detailed and deep enough. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the novel is not only highly readable, but also very complex and intricate. At times, I have to admit, I did crave a bit of prose, but that was somewhat delivered in the form of journal entries by Becky. I also think the fact that I wished there was a bit more classic narrative in the novel stems from the fact that I fell so deeply in love with the characters (more on this in a second), that I just wanted more of them, as much more as I could get. While some people might find it to be a failing on the part of the novel that I craved more, I definitely think it’s a sign of the opposite! The only criticism I have of this choice of format is that in some cases the texts and emails were a touch unrealistic, in that the characters wrote such detailed messages about things that you would assume the two parties conversing would already know. This is really the only way that the reader could get any backstory though, and I’m choosing to overlook it because the texts were otherwise very charming to read and I was impressed by how distinct and diverse each character’s voice and writing style was.

Okay, so that leads me to the subtly amazing aspects of this novel…

First of all, the characters are brilliant and rival some of my all-time favourite chick lit. characters for my affections. Finally, since reading The Hating Game a few months ago, I found a new couple to root for and swoon over. Becky is adorable and endearing, but also fiercely confident and a strong, professional business woman. She came across as someone I could easily be friends with, and many of her texts reminded me of messages of my own that I’ve sent to my best friends. We, as readers, are also intimately exposed to a number of different characters because we read their private messages and emails, and I found every single character fascinating and entertaining in their own way. I adored the marital banter of Carly and Marshall, I thought Trimble was annoying but also hilarious in her anxieties and obsessions, and the Stewart parents, as well as Becky’s mom Beverly, were an absolute treat! There wasn’t one character that annoyed me, and I never found myself reading a section that I wasn’t interested in because I liked all of the characters equally. Cabot really did a fine job of making me feel invested in the lives of her characters, both main and supporting.

My heart really does rest with Reed Steward though, the hero of the story. Oh man, have I ever developed a book crush on him! (Why does this keep happening to me with fictional characters?!) There’s nothing quite like reading the personal texts and emails of a handsome, dashing and adorable man in love. I think Cabot nailed Reed’s voice because I felt as though he almost jumped off the page at times, his voice was so clear and distinct. He also says some of the sexiest things to Becky, but they are never cheesy, cliché or heavy-handed. He flirts very subtly, and Cabot expertly establishes a rapport between her two main characters that the reader gets quickly swept up into. And, I mean, a man who can quote Jane Austen on the fly – my heart flutters just thinking about it!

I HIGHLY recommend The Boy is Back because it was by far the best book I’ve read in recent weeks. I am so so glad I picked it up when I did, to give me a cheery disposition as the warm weather gets into full swing, and I am absolutely going to read more of Cabot’s work as soon as possible. If you’re looking for a unique and meaningful but fun and enjoyable romance, pick this book up!

❥❥❥❥❥ (out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

Reluctantly Charmed – #JNGReads

Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O’Neill is a pleasant, charming read, and was the last book I needed to finish to complete my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge. In hindsight, I set my goal pretty low, planning to read only 18 books in 2017, and the fact that I accomplished my goal within the first four months of the year is testament to the fact that most of the books I’ve read recently have been light, fun and airy. Reluctantly Charmed, in that way, was a very fitting end to my Reading Challenge, because it is quite possibly one of the airiest novels I’ve ever read. Now, I don’t mean that as a criticism whatsoever – it is true that O’Neill’s story is quite simplistic and is written in a straight forward and uncomplicated style, but if you are a fan of chick lit. with a unique twist, then this would absolutely be the book for you. Although it isn’t jam-packed with twists and turns and complex plotlines, it is the quintessential garden read, the perfect book to read in a park, under a tall, full tree, with an iced tea in hand.

I thoroughly enjoyed Reluctantly Charmed and I probably would’ve given it a 4-star rating, until I reached the last 100 pages. At that point in the novel, about 3 quarters of the way through when the main conflict was being revealed, my interest started to wane and I became a bit bored with the story and the characters, a touch restless and ready to be done with it. Prior to that point though, I found the story to be lovely and the adjective I used before, charming, is probably the best way to sum up the entire novel. Set in Ireland and heavily drenched in folklore and fairy culture, Reluctantly Charmed really did a perfect job of creating a distinct ambiance and feeling. It was so clearly set in Ireland, and you could feel that in every page because of how the characters spoke and the descriptions of the environment and the references to magic and fairy stories. The Irish setting was subtle though, and it was never overpowering to read descriptions of the country or its people – I do have to say that my favourite part of the novel was how clearly and powerfully Irish culture figured in all of it.

I also enjoyed reading from Kate McDaid’s perspective, and I found her to be an endearing character. However, I found that her clear narrative voice did become a touch diluted in those last 100 pages of the novel, and perhaps that is because this marked the point when Kate began to believe in the fairies. It sort of felt as though Kate got to the conclusion of believing in The Seven Steps her ancestor left to her and acknowledging her connection to the fairies in Ireland without doing any real soul searching or without any internal observation or reflection. All of a sudden, Kate remembered her fairy friend from her childhood and she accepted that her ancestor was in fact a witch, but this all happened almost as soon as she set foot in the rural town of Knocknamee, almost as if leaving Dublin caused her to open herself up to magical possibilities. That is all well and good and actually makes a lot of sense considering that Knocknamee is the site of the fairies in The Seven Steps Kate publishes, but it would’ve been nice to have a bit more internal monologue from Kate actually marking her change in feelings toward the magic around her. Overall though, I enjoyed reading from Kate’s perspective and she was a fun character to follow.

What bothered me about the last 100 pages of the novel, I suppose, is the fact that Kate’s voice and the overall storytelling style started to become a bit too mundane. In the rest of the novel, Kate has such a witty, comical personality and when she narrates, this personality really shines through. I found that, as soon as Kate made it to Knocknamee, her narration was less engaging and enjoyable to read, and even her romance with Hugh seemed to be watered down and less exciting than it was when Kate was at her office in Dublin. I think maybe O’Neill intended for Kate’s narrative style to change slightly toward the end of the novel because she is becoming tired and her journey is slowly starting to take some of her strength away from her, but again I think some introspection on Kate’s part would’ve clarified that and made the reader empathize with her a touch more. I also found the ultimate resolution with The Seven Steps to be a bit frustrating, because I desperately wanted the fairies to be good and innocent, for Kate’s sake. I was enchanted throughout the novel by the idea of fairies inhabiting Ireland, and to give them a sinister, evil edge at the very end of the story sort of felt dishonest to me. In a way, I was rooting for Kate to believe in the fairies all along, particularly when she was reluctant (which was for most of the novel, as the title suggests), and to see her finally believe and begin to embrace her history and connection to the fairies only to then have her almost punished for that trust seemed like a huge let-down. For that reason, I had to reduce my rating of the book because it just left me disheartened, especially compared to how cute and fun the story was in the beginning.

Ultimately, I would recommend Reluctantly Charmed as a quick and easy spring or summertime read. It was nice and not at all stressful to get swept up in, and I think that many younger adults would probably really enjoy the magical realism elements and the quirkiness of the narrator.

❥❥❥ (out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

The White Queen – #JNGReads

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory is a novel that I am quite confused about and am finding difficult to review. This is partly because I don’t even know that it should be classified as a novel, and the writing style and structure doesn’t really fit exactly within my knowledge of the genre of historical fiction.

I picked up The White Queen because of my eagerness to read another novel in the series it is part of, The White Princess. I recently came across photos for the new TV series based on The White Princess, and I immediately wanted to watch it, but I knew that it would be a better idea to read the book first. I then remembered wanting to watch the series The White Queen as well, and since I knew that it was also based on one of Gregory’s novels, I decided to read it first, watch The White Queen, and then move onto the story of her daughter, the White Princess.

Well, after finishing The White Queen, I am still eager to watch the TV adaptation and read The White Princess, but I do have to admit that The White Queen was not written at all how I expected it to be. My only other experience of Gregory’s writing was in reading her more famous book The Other Boleyn Girl, as well as The Virgin’s Lover, which comes a few books after the story of the Boleyn sisters. I read both of those novels when I was in high school, and I remember enjoying them immensely. I’ve always liked historical fiction, both when it comes to literature and to other types of media like movies and TV, and I do know that I enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl and The Virgin’s Lover very much because they were addictive and highly entertaining and transported me straight to regal England. The descriptions and scenes were vivid and detailed, and I felt immersed in the lives of the characters. I know that much of Gregory’s storylines and the interactions between her characters were fictionalized, but I also felt like I achieved a better understanding of the time period she wrote of and I actually did feel like I learned many things about the history of England and some of its most famous monarchs. Amidst all of that though, I did grow attached to the characters, their struggles and anxieties in trying to maintain power and authority, and I felt as though I had an invested interest in their lives and their tragedies and triumphs.

With The White Queen, things were a bit different, and I feel that all I received really was a history lesson. This is largely due to how the novel is written. In The White Queen, Gregory adopts a style where she basically summarizes a great deal of information into not so many pages. I honestly don’t think there was even much dialogue in The White Queen, and when there was, it was incredibly simplistic, to the point and often very dry. (Sidenote: I will say that the last quarter of the novel featured much more dialogue, and the conversations between The White Queen and her daughter Elizabeth, the future White Princess, were quite tense and interesting – but I don’t know that they made up for the lack of dialogue and connection between the characters in the first three quarters of the novel.) Gregory does a great job of running through the events of Queen Elizabeth Woodville’s reign and marriage to King Edward, but it is unclear why she even chose Elizabeth to narrate the story because there is nothing unique or outstanding about Elizabeth’s voice. At times, it felt as though I was reading a history textbook, devoid of bias or personal interest, and this just didn’t seem to jive with the fact that Elizabeth does in fact have a distinct role and influence in her husband’s reign. At the same time that the story was written in textbook style, however, it was also missing any concrete facts or hard-hitting details; Gregory glossed over a lot of gritty, nuanced historical information, and instead summarized battles and feuds in a handful of pages or less. She does cover a remarkable number of years in her story, but there isn’t any real character development throughout because we never really get to hear her character’s speak or see them in action. Instead, it is almost as if we are being told a story in conversation, as if anecdotes and events are being recounted to us without depth or any real insight into the causes and factors behind and surrounding them.

I have also read several reviews on Goodreads in which fellow readers said that they found The White Queen to be very repetitive, and I definitely have to agree with that assessment. Certain phrases were repeated, verbatim, within mere pages, and Gregory mentioned characters’ titles constantly, almost as if she needed to remind the reader every time a person was mentioned, who exactly they were. The main characters appear so frequently, though, and the novel is only just over 400 pages long, so I found it very unnecessary to read that George was the Duke of Clarence or Thomas was Elizabeth’s Grey son on every other page. It just made my reading experience that much more tedious. Gregory also goes so far as to repeat ideas over and over, particularly when Elizabeth is reflecting on the politics of her husband’s reign and her royal position. It is almost as though we are witness to the constant obsessing that Elizabeth does, but because she never adds anything new to her reflections, this is more frustrating than insightful. However, despite all the repetition (which I sort of think is just be evidence of lazy writing), Gregory’s tale does flow very nicely, and once you get into the hang of reading it, it is very easy to get through many pages in one sitting. It’s somewhat of a strange paradox when you think about it, and perhaps the fact that Gregory’s writing is so repetitive makes it that much less complicated and easier to blast through rapidly. Who knows?

The thing that makes it so difficult to review The White Queen, though, is that I still found it really interesting and enjoyed reading it, in spite of its many flaws. It was definitely frustrating to get so little information about specific characters and to feel as though historical details were being diluted and washed over, while at the same time having some phrases and ideas incessantly repeated, but I still did find myself entertained as I read. It’s true that I didn’t have any strong emotional connection to any one character, but I certainly wasn’t dreading reading more of the book, and on the contrary, I found that when I did have a moment to sit down and read it, I got through many pages quite quickly because of the smooth and fluid style.

The best I can say, I guess, is that The White Queen is an average novel. It certainly wasn’t what I expected, especially because I remembered Gregory’s style to be more rich and opulent. But, I do think it will make an incredible TV series because there is so much subject matter to be treated and there are so many dialogues I can imagine coming out of scenes that Gregory somewhat flitted past. I’ll certainly be interested to watch The White Queen, and I do still intend to read The White Princess to see if Gregory perhaps developed a more detailed style and a knack for getting inside the minds of these particular characters later in the series.

❥❥❥ (out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

Anna and the French Kiss – #JNGReads

Anna and the French Kiss is a novel that I wish I wasn’t conflicted about… But, I am.

I wanted desperately to give this young adult novel by Stephanie Perkins a rave review, and I honestly feel guilty about the review I’m about to write. I am definitely in the minority with my feelings about this story, and that is something that really surprised and disappointed me.

Okay, let’s start with the good… (As a general rule, I like to say at least a few good things about a novel to start a review, unless it made me royally angry and annoyed, which this one did not.)

Paris.

That’s the really good about this novel. I’ve been to Paris and, like most human beings on this planet, I fell in love with it, so it was really lovely to read a story almost entirely set in Paris. I was excited to be able to picture the monuments, as well as the more quiet streets, and since I’ve been studying French since I was in the first grade, I did find it enjoyable to read about Anna’s experiences at a school in France and her process of becoming acclimatized to the language and culture. So, yeah, Paris was a good and smart locale for this story because it added to the overall ambiance of the tale.

Other than that though…well, honestly, without Paris, I feel like Anna and the French Kiss would’ve been a novel about nothing. If it had taken place in a more familiar, western setting, there would’ve been absolutely nothing interesting, unique or exciting about it. Don’t get me wrong, the novel was very cute – it was fluffy and light and airy. Those are adjectives that I think are ideal for a book that you choose to read when you’re in grade 8, but I think that, in this case, the story was too simplistic for the audience it attempted to target. The main character, Anna, and her friends are in their last year of high school, so around 17 to 18 years of age. I, personally, cannot picture a 17 or 18 year old reading this book and enjoying it. I know several readers who reviewed the novel on Goodreads were much older and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I wonder if that is because they are viewing it with the lens of adulthood and are perhaps being a touch sentimental. Like I said, it is an adorable story in many ways, but it is also a bit young. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was too old to be reading a young adult novel, and that saddened me. For the most part, I think young adult novels can be very mature and edgy (I’m thinking of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, which I read recently and which truly taught me lessons and changed my perspective on many very adult issues), but I found Anna and the French Kiss to be juvenile and soft rather than sophisticated and hard-hitting.

I think that both too much and not enough of the novel focused on Anna’s crush on Étienne St. Clair. That really does seem like a massive contradiction, but I’ll try to explain: Anna spends a lot of time crushing on St. Clair, but she also spends a lot of time denying her feelings and trying to ignore them, and he spends a lot of time in another relationship that prevents him from even admitting his feelings to Anna, and vice versa. Although Anna narrates her time in class, some of her day trips with her friends, and how hot and endearing St. Clair is, other than that, nothing much happens in the novel and nothing much happens between Anna and St. Clair. For a novel branded as a romance (right down to the title), not a lot of actual romance happens and most of the novel is spent building towards a relationship that unfortunately doesn’t come across as that desirable or exciting anyway. I found myself not even really caring if Anna and St. Clair got together in the end, which I think is a sure sign that a romance novel has not done its job well enough. By three quarters of the way into the story, I was still wondering when the romance would start!

Even the conflicts, like Anna’s fight with her best friend Bridgette and St. Clair’s girlfriend situation, are glossed over for the most part and as readers, we never get to dig down into the root of any of these problems because our narrator, Anna, never does either. I’ve read some reviews where readers say they think that Anna is stupid as a character, but I wouldn’t go that far – on the contrary, I think that she’s smart enough to realize what her feelings are, but she’s just too lazy, both to investigate them and to express these emotions to her audience. Instead, she states what is running through her mind, flitting from one idea to the next in rapid succession, which makes it very hard to keep up with and keep track of her.  She comes across as very wishy-washy and flat, and so does the story overall, mainly because there is no profound climax and because, basically, barely anything happens.

Now, as for Étienne St. Clair… I’ve read a lot of reviews where readers say they are absolutely in love with him and I am wholeheartedly confused as to why! He’s…sweet? I mean, okay, he’s not that sweet because he does have a girlfriend for most of the novel and yet he clearly still likes Anna as well and is giving her mixed signals. Having said that, he is very clearly a good guy, both when it comes to being a friend and being a son to his mother who is battling cancer. My favourite part of the entire novel was probably the emails that he and Anna exchange over their Christmas break – their back and forth was really adorable and somewhat flirtatious in this part, and I definitely got a sense that they were becoming best friends. That’s a lovely thing to behold in any relationship. But, when Anna returns home and reveals that she is heartstoppingly in love with him (she actually nearly falls down in the middle of a café just at the sight of him, which seemed a little melodramatic to me!), I was confused as to why. Sure, he’s attractive and he occasionally says things to Anna that make her feel attractive and confident, but they honestly don’t even speak all that much, and when they do, they talk about nothing. They go to the movies together, visit historical sites in Paris, and yet there’s no charged banter between them, no chemistry, no zing. Maybe I’m missing something, maybe I wasn’t reading between the lines enough, I don’t know, but I just didn’t get a fire or a spark from Anna and St. Clair, and that is what disappointed me about the novel more than anything.

I think this is probably an ideal read for students in grade 9. Sure, there are some mature themes, but they aren’t really explored in too much detail and there isn’t anything graphic or too adult about this novel. I don’t think I can see an older audience, like students in grade 11 and 12, loving it because there just wasn’t enough to it, but a younger reader might like it as a nice introduction to some of the more sophisticated and mature young adult novels that are out there.

This is a really hard rating to give and I feel awful about it, but here we are…

❥❥ (out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

Royally Matched – #JNGReads

I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to review Royally Matched by Emma Chase (the sequel to the novel I just finished, Royally Screwed) for the last few hours, and I am still very conflicted. On the one hand, I blasted through the story and finished it in only a few days. It was just as light and entertaining as the first novel in the series, and although it was replete with clichés and it was predictable in the sense that I knew exactly how it would end, I devoured it (just like I did Royally Screwed) and I had a really fun time reading it. Having said that, there were a few things that bothered me about the novel, and I’m finding it hard to overlook them.

I should say, though, that Henry was by far my favourite part of the story. Chase was very wise to once again include her male main character’s perspective because I loved using his eyes to view Sarah and getting a chance to delve further into his emotions and anxieties about becoming king. And, yes okay, Henry was very sexy and I liked spending time with him…fine, I admit it. Henry was what got me through the novel, and reading his first person narration was the highlight of the whole story for me.

Which brings me to my one major problem with the story: Sarah, the female love interest. It surprised me that I didn’t like Sarah because, to be honest, she’s basically me. So much of what she said and thought was familiar to me, because I have said and thought and even done almost the exact same things. But although Sarah is realistic in the sense that her looks (I mean, I do have long dark hair and glasses, sooo…), personality and morals reminded me so much of my own, I also thought she was just one big stereotype. I know that may seem like a contradiction because how could Sarah be a stereotype if she’s like me and I’m real…but somehow, it happened. Sarah is bookish, virginal and innocent – and I have been all of these things. I’ve done exactly what Sarah did, investing myself in a quiet routine, focusing on my novels and my work, allowing myself to put literary heroes on a pedestal that no real man could possibly surmount. And, when Sarah meets a man who challenges her, makes her strong and brave, and pushes her out of her comfort zone, well, that reminded me a lot of when I met my fiancé and my world was turned upside down, in the best way possible. Yeah, Sarah is essentially a character modeled after me, but at the same time, I got so frustrated with her and annoyed by the fact that she has to be bookish, virginal and innocent in order to contrast the bad boy that is Prince Henry. For me, this is a story that has been told too many times: shy and inexperienced girl meets damaged boy, opens his eyes to the importance of True Love and responsibility and they live happily ever after. And while this is a story structure that I usually love, for some reason I found that, in Royally Matched, Sarah was just too overdone. She was too much the stereotype and didn’t have much else to offer. I even found the references to classic literature by Austen and Brontë were heavy-handed and too numerous. I don’t know, maybe I’m being picky because Sarah hit close to home as a character, but she just seemed a little over the top in her characterization, a bit overacted in a way, and that got in the way of my reading experience.

But, at the same time, like I said, there were moments in Royally Matched that warmed my heart and made it more memorable than Royally Screwed. Some of the lines were really nice and touching – here are a few of my favourites…

“There are meetings in books that stand out, that alter the course of the story. Profound encounters between characters when one soul seems to say to the other, ‘There you are – I’ve been looking for you.’”

“‘You are every dream I never let myself believe could come true.’”

“‘You are woven into my soul and you are wrapped around my heart.’”

One last qualm with the novel: Chase starts a lot of her sentences with “Because”. I’m not a stickler for grammar, and I think it’s important to master a narrative voice and run with it, even if it isn’t technically “correct” all the time…but, I still found the repeated use of “because” at the beginning of sentences to be a bit glaring and obvious. Picky, I know, but there it is.

I’m going to have to give Royally Matched an average rating, although I did get a lot of pleasure out of reading it. It’s just one of those things where it was an enjoyable read, but there were also some problems that necessarily lowered my rating. But, if you liked Royally Screwed, I would highly recommend Royally Matched to you, and realistically, I will be reading the third novel in the series when it comes out.

❥❥❥ (out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

Royally Screwed – #JNGReads

I’m a fan of adult fiction.  That’s probably pretty obvious from the fact that I’m reviewing Royally Screwed by Emma Chase at the moment, but I think it’s worth bluntly stating that, every now and then, I enjoy a good romantic comedy read with adult elements.  There are novels of this genre that I’ve hated, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes there are those ones that are more unique, that are story-driven and that feature intricate and complex characters, and then the erotic parts seem to add something to the narrative rather than overwhelming it.  When done properly, adult fiction can be really enjoyable and exciting to read, and that’s where my interest in it stems from.

I had a Victorian literature professor in third year university who told us that the entire romance genre is derived from the Victorian era and the literature of its time.  While this seems like a loaded statement, I can see what my professor was trying to say (and she’s one of the leading Victorian literature experts in Canada, so I wouldn’t dream of arguing with her anyway) – the best romances feature all of the tropes that were first explored in Victorian literature: the disadvantaged but strong and defiant heroine; the dashing and intoxicating hero who has a secret or two, a wife locked up in his attic; the societal norms or economic circumstances or some such obstacle that keeps the lovers apart; the happy and triumphant conclusion, where the hero and the heroine assert their choice, stand up to society and put their love before any and all convention.  These are the features of many Victorian novels, and they are reimagined in the most successful romance novels of our current time.

So, when I read the description of Emma Chase’s Royally Screwed, I thought, Perfect, this is romantic gold!  And it absolutely was – the sort of plot that becomes addictive, that you crave, that you’re excited to delve further into.  The novel follows Prince Nicholas and his relationship with a commoner, New York bakeshop owner Olivia.  Obviously, their different social stations is the major obstacle to overcome in the story and Nicholas must decide either to abandon his love or his country, his heart or his duty.  This is the sort of story that is right up my alley, especially since I have a particular fondness for royalty, and I was eager to read it for months before finding it relatively cheap on my new Kobo.  I’ve found, in the short time I’ve been using the Kobo, that romance novels seem to be the perfect genre to use it for, partly because most romance novels have front covers that I’m slightly embarrassed to flaunt about on the bus, and also because the stories are usually so light and simple that the structure is easy to follow in digital format.  Anyway, as soon as I saw Royally Screwed on the Kobo, I snatched it up and finished it within only a few days.

I really did become addicted to reading this story.  Although it was a straight-forward story and many of the conflicts were resolved perhaps too easily, I had a lot of fun reading it and it was just the sort of novel I needed in my life during a week when I was desperately missing my fiancé and craving romance.  Nicholas is a really sexy character (Sidenote: I love that they never call him Nick, because he is a Nicholas through and through) and what I enjoyed most about Royally Screwed was reading the story through Nicholas’ perspective.  Chase was very smart to alternate the point of view between that of Olivia and that of Nicholas, and I found myself enjoying Nicholas’ portions more because it gave me an insight into how he perceived and felt about Olivia.  Some may argue that this perspective renders Olivia nothing more than an object of the male gaze, but Olivia also had her turn telling her portions of the story and she was a well-developed character who had a personality in her own right, and so her characterization didn’t suffer at all during the points when Nicholas told the story.  The beauty of literature is that it can offer its reader a fresh perspective on reality and, in this case, romance, and so I thoroughly enjoyed reading the man’s take on all of the events.

The one qualm I have with the novel is that Olivia seemed to lose a bit of her strength as the story progressed.  Her first interaction with Nicholas is unexpected and fiery and she exudes this no nonsense attitude, and I think in that scene, she seriously challenges Nicholas.  I did feel, though, that as the love story went on and Olivia began to have feelings for Nicholas, she started to become one of those typical heroines who gives in a bit too easily, who forgets what she stands for a little bit.  I don’t think I’m being too critical, but I do think that Chase intended for Olivia to be a strong female character, and she does a lot better than most authors of this genre of novel.  I’m very interested in reading the second book in this series, Royally Matched (I’m intending to start it today), because the main female character in that one seems to be a touch more unique and self-assured.

Bottom line, I devoured Royally Screwed and I don’t think I need to read much further into things than that.  It is a seriously entertaining book, the main characters are charming, and it offers a glimpse into the second novel in the series that makes it seem like it is definitely worth continuing with these characters.  I’d highly recommend Royally Screwed to readers who are entertained by romances and who aren’t put off by fast resolutions and occasional clichés.  I personally enjoyed the novel and look forward to reading the second one.

❥❥❥ (out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart