Review #10: The Lady and the Thief

The Lady and the Thief by Megan Derr

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Published on June 27th 2018

I received a complementary copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

In The Lady and the Thief we meet Adeline, a young noble lady living at her aunt and uncle’s after they took her under their wing when her parents died. Adeline is a fierce young lady with a secret: she is in love with one of her maids. As Adeline’s love for Lisette grows, she starts planning their escape, dreaming of a future where they could both live together, as equals, unrestrained by society’s standards. But the very next day, Adeline wakes up to find Lisette gone… and with her, all of the family’s silver and jewellery. When two years later, Adeline stumbles upon Lisette at a ball, she is faced with a multitude of questions: why did Lisette leave? why did she steal? Was their love even real? Adeline will soon find out that Lisette is playing a dangerous game and she should better stay out of it… but will she?

How refreshing to read a book featuring LGBT+ characters! I’ll be honest, I don’t stumble upon LGBT+ storylines very often and there is a serious lack of it in literature, so this was a little gem in itself, just for that reason.

I loved the fact that, in this specific historical setting, sexual orientation is not a divide. It is accepted and people are free to marry someone of the same sex if they so desire. The only prejudice in this case is the matter of class; hence why Adeline and Lisette’s love is so forbidden, not because they are both women, but because one of them was born in the nobility while the other one is a servant.

It is an interesting story with its parts of intrigue and young love. Because of her love for Lisette, Adeline gets tangled into situations that are beyond her control. She becomes an unaware pawn in the game played by her relatives and guardians.

I liked the fact that this book is mainly female fronted, and all the female characters in it are strong and powerful women who take matters into their own hands rather than expecting men to take charge.

The book is however really really short and only took me a couple of days to finish, and because of this, I felt a bit un-satiated. It felt more like a short story than an actual book, and it felt a bit rushed. I would have loved for all of the storylines to be expanded further into a longer book.

The Lady and the Thief is book number 5 in the ‘Deceived’ series, but it can be read as a stand-alone book.

If historical fiction and LGBT+ storylines are your cup of tea, then don’t hesitate to check it out, aswell as the rest of Megan Derr’s work, as most of her books are LGBT+. She has written an extensive collection of stories, so there is plenty for you to get lost into!

Review #9: The Kindness Method

The Kindness Method: Changing Habits for Good by Shahroo Izadi

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Published on: 14th June 2018

I obtained a complementary copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ok guys, I know I’ve said I’m more of a fiction type of gal when it comes to reading, but NetGalley has so many amazing non-fiction/self-help books to offer that I have succumbed to getting a few!

Shahroo Izadi is a behavioural change specialist based in London. She has experience of working with substance users to help them overcome their addiction. This book is the fruit of what she’s learned through years of working as a psychologist and her first hand experience of eating disorders and food binging habits. It is clear that Shahroo has learned a lot from her clients and herself and this enabled her to draw patterns in terms of what behaviours help people make sustainable changes and what behaviours do not help. Her approach is based on one thing: being kind to oneself through the process of change.

This is a truly amazing book because it can be applied to anything, whether you are trying to control an addiction like drinking, smoking, drug use, gambling etc; or just general bad habits such as talking yourself down. It can be used to overcome anxiety and depression aswell. Shahroo’s insight into why people don’t make the changes that they know they need to make is incredible; and that’s because she’s been there too, battling her own demons.

Shahroo’s approach is based on filling out maps that represent different areas of your life, and as you go through the books you complete more and more maps which highlight what you want to change about yourself, and why it is important that you do so and stick to it. You will then spend a few days or weeks creating the basis for your plan to change, all while remaining positive and kind to yourself. She also professes moderation rather than abstinence. For instance, she uses the example of alcohol abuse a lot, and explains how it isn’t always helpful to go cold turkey as it is more likely to drag you into a relapse. Instead, she encourages people to moderate their alcohol consumption to a point where they can actually enjoy it rather than let it rule their life.

Whether you feel like you need to make changes in your life at this point in time or not, this is an amazing read, especially if you’ve got the habit of talking yourself down constantly, which I know I do. It does force you to pause and look at your thoughts and ask yourself “why do I speak to myself in this mean and counterproductive way?”

The only negative point I have about this book is that I was given an advance copy, which do not contain the example maps for guidance, and that was a bit of a shame as I would have liked to be able to compare my own maps to the ones provided in the book.

I’ll admit that in order to stay on track with my reading, I’ve had to skim through the second half of this book (for some reason it always takes me much longer to read non-fiction than fiction books) but I do intend to go back to it and complete the rest of the maps in my own time. This is a truly inspiring book and I would highly recommend it to everyone.

Review #8: Captive Rebel

Captive Rebel by Erin McDermott

Ebook, 169 pages

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I received a complementary copy of this ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Captive Rebel is the first book in The Allegiance series (or rather the first prequel, as there is a second prequel after this one).

In Captive Rebel, we meet Marylyn O’Conner, a teenage rebel who has spent the last few years spying on the enemy camp, the Allegiant, by infiltrating the Allegiant King’s castle and working there as a servant. Marylyn was assigned this mission after her brother betrayed the rebels, and this is her chance to finally clear her family’s name and be reunited with her parents. Unfortunately, the arrival of the Allegiant Prince Ariston, who had been kept prisoner by the rebels for the last decade and has suddenly been released, will put a spanner in the works of Marylyn’s mission.

This book was very enjoyable to read and I did like it. As you know by now, historical fiction is right up my street so I knew I would enjoy it.

However, I did notice some discrepancies, the main one being the presence of anachronisms. While the time period over which the story spans is never clearly stated, the fact that the characters are Kings and Princes and live in castles seems to set it back quite far into history. However, the Royal Palace has electricity and Marylyn has a necklace of the Statue of Liberty which would mean the story would have to be set in at least the 19th century. Another thing that tickled me is the choice of characters names. Some characters are called Orion, Ariston and Deimos (very Game of Thrones-y) and then there is… Mike. A bit inconsistent in my opinion.

Captive Rebel is a typical star-crossed lovers/damsel in distress type of tale (which reminded me of Romeo and Juliet) and while it hurts the feminist in me to say this, I still found the story pretty enjoyable. I mean, when you are a fan of historical fiction you kind have to leave your feminist ideals out the door the time of a book, if you don’t want your ego bruised, ha.

The fact that the book is so small (only 169 pages!) makes it the perfect bite-size read. And even though I have got a reading list longer than my arm at the moment, I will make sure to check out the rest of the series as soon as I get the chance. It does leave you eager to know more, and I would like to see where the rest of the story is going.

Let me know in the comments if this is a book that would interest you, and what is your favourite genre!

Review #7: I Never Lie

I Never Lie by Jody Sabral

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I received a complementary copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

In I Never Lie we meet Alex South, a journalist who left her hometown of Manchester (and her fiancé) after her miscarriage, aspiring to start her life anew in London and focus on taking her career forward.

When women are found dead in a park in Alex’s neighbourhood, she jumps at the opportunity to cover the story, as this could really launch her career as a crime reporter. But Alex has her own struggles, she is an alcoholic and even though high-functioning, she soon finds herself blacking out and missing work and not being able to remember where she was or what she did the night before. And on top of that, all of the murders seem connected to Alex, in different ways. She has to juggle her drinking habits, her work and trying to discover what really happened to these women, and this is no easy task.

Every few chapters is a diary entry, from someone whose identity is never revealed, but it sheds an interesting light on Alex’s life and the murders.

I did like this book and if I had to rate it, I would give it a 3 stars out of 5. It is easy to read, it is contemporary and it is really close to reality.

The way Alex struggles with her alcohol addiction is very realistically depicted. She is in complete denial of her problem and thinks that she is in control of it. She keeps promising herself that “today is the day that I detox!” until something happens that throws her off the rails and she is back to square one. I feel like anyone who has some kind of addiction, whether it be drinking, smoking, gambling etc, can relate to Alex in that way. She is a humane and flawed character trying to do her best with the cards that life has dealt her, and in this way she is very relatable and likeable.

Now, I chose to only give this book 3 stars because, while it’s entertaining, it’s not riveting. There have been a couple of cliffhangers that have left me wanting to know more, but not enough for a thriller. The plot resolves itself very simply at the end and you can see it coming from a mile away. I was expecting more of a plot twist at the end, and it never came, so that left me slightly disappointed.

All in all, it is still a good read and perfect for the beach, since it is so easy to read. And if you are a fan of crime novels and thrillers, you might enjoy it!

Let me know in the comments if you have read or intend to read this book; and also, what is a good beach book for you?

Review #6: The Oddling Prince

The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer

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Published on 25 May 2018

I obtained a complementary copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Oddling Prince tells the tale of Aric, a young prince whose father (the King of Calidon) lays dying from an inexplicable curse. When a stranger called Albaric comes into Aric’s life and miraculously breaks the curse, Aric finds himself instantly attached to the new comer. But Albaric is not of this world, he is the fruit of the unrequited love between Queen Theena of Elfland and the King, and therefore Aric’s half-brother.

This is a beautifully written historical fiction (historical in the sense that the story is set in the past, but all characters are fictional) mixed with elements of magic and fantasy.

It is the tale of a stranger who has come to a new land, renounced his origins and is now trying to fit in and be accepted into the mortal realm. It is something that I can oddly relate to as someone who has moved away from their mother country and is trying to find their place in a different one.

The brotherly love and mutual understanding between Aric and Albaric is beautiful and I feel like, as an only child myself, should someone have come into my life declaring to be my sibling, I would have welcomed them with open arms in the same way that Aric does Albaric.

The only person that Albaric cannot seem to please is the King himself, his father, who has no recollection of ever being involved with the Queen of Elfland (because he was under a spell) and completely rejects Albaric, seeing him as an intruder come to usurp his throne. The character of the King is interesting because the more the story goes on, the crazier he gets and he starts seeing conspiracy theories everywhere. He also starts making crazy and dangerous decisions and because he is the King and has all the power, no one can stop him. Funnily enough, this reminded me of Trump: another idiot in a position of power who thinks he can do all he wants because he is on top of everyone else. Although, unlike Trump, the King does regain his senses in the end and love wins.

I really enjoyed this book: the writing is beautiful, the story is consistent and it does transport you back to times past. Oddly enough, I had never heard of Nancy Springer before, but I will be making sure to check out some of her other books as she has written loads! This is definitely an author that I will remember.

Let me know in the comments if you have read this book yourself or if you intend to read it. And if you are familiar with Nancy Springer, please leave your recommendations below as to which of her books I should read next!