Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Review: Appaloosa Summer by Tudor Robins

Title: Appaloosa Summer
Author: Tudor Robins
Publisher: South Shore Publications (June 2014)

Sixteen-year-old Meg Traherne has never known loss. Until the beautiful, talented horse she trained herself, drops dead underneath her in the show ring. 
Jared Strickland has been living with loss ever since his father died in a tragic farming accident. 
Meg escapes from her grief by changing everything about her life; moving away from home to spend her summer living on an island in the St. Lawrence River, scrubbing toilets and waiting on guests at a B&B. 
Once there, she meets Jared; doing his best to keep anything else in his life from changing. 
When Jared offers Meg a scruffy appaloosa mare out of a friend’s back field, it’s the beginning of a journey that will change both of them by the end of the summer.
Since the age of 12 or so, I have been a sucker for a good horse book. I still love finding gems like this for the pure nostalgia element of it. Even better if the book is realistic and doesn't have its characters achieving miracles with their horses for the sake of the plot.

I loved Appaloosa Summer so much. It is a quaint and charming read with a strong-willed protagonist who actually has decent horse-sense. It is not just a romance but a story of personal growth and healing.

The author is also so good at creating setting and memorable characters. I could see everything so vividly and felt like I knew everyone on the island as friends by the time to book drew to a close.

This is not just for horsey folk, but for any reader who loves a good, honest story.

I cannot wait to reread this book and return to the island with Meg and Jared.

Review: The Law of Tall Girls by Joanne Macgregor

Title: The Law of Tall Girls
Author: Joanne Macgregor

When you really stand out, can you ever fit in?

Seventeen-year-old Peyton Lane is a tall girl. So tall, it’s the only thing most people notice about her.  
On impulse, she accepts a bet to prove she can be as attractive and desirable as other girls. Now she just needs to go on four dates (including the prom) with one of the guys on her very short list of very tall boys. 
Number one on the list is Jay Young – the new guy that Peyton already likes way more than she should. Because not only is Jay already taken, he’s also breaking her Law of Tall Girls, and he’s determined to discover the awful secret she’s been hiding for most of her life.

I cannot relate to being a tall girl. Maybe a skinny girl back in the day, before my 30's hit me like 20 kg. Literally. I was worried about relating to Peyton, the protagonist, but that actually wasn't a problem at all. And not for reasons I was expecting either!

The Law of Tall Girls, in spite of generally being a fun, romantic read, had some pretty dark themes which I appreciated so much because they were not blown out of all proportion like the style of a lot of YA contemporaries these days. I know I harp a lot about the failings of John Green's earlier works, but he is solely responsible for the recent wave of "sick-lit" with authors trying to emulate his particular style and weirdly mature, deep characters who are into odd shit like Neitsche.

This book was not like that at all and the teens were still teens. Peyton and her friends are wonderful and a joy to spend time with. The romance is well-paced and believable with some seriously swoony moments.

Of course, if I had to tell you the thing that really made me connect to Peyton (and even got a bit emotional about it), I would be giving away a major plot point. So just go read the book already!

If you are seeing this post BEFORE Sunday the 17th February 2018, The Law of Tall Girls is still on special for a steal at $0.99 on Amazon here. I have not just helped you find a read for this weekend, but also helped you save money. So go buy it.

Also, this book was nominated for and won YA Book Central's Best Indie Award!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: Charmed by the Bartender by Piper Rayne

Title: Charmed by the Bartender (Modern Love #1)
Author: Piper Rayne
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

I know my regular readers are probably looking at this post and wondering if I have been abducted by aliens or something equally implausible. I promise, this is still Monique and I am still 100% myself, but I thought it is time to reveal a side of my reading habits I used to feel ashamed about.

I love cheesy romance. I really do. I have been reading them since my mid-teens when I discovered Heart of Fire at the age of sixteen (hot, steamy sexytimes with a ton of adventure!).

This is something people can get judgy about and I really don't understand why. Your reading choices also are not a reflection of your relationship or marriage and if anyone implies this, smack them. Hard.

I was trawling the freebie reads on Kindle over the festive season because I wanted to get my Kindle reading fitness up before spending any large sums of money on books. It sounds ridiculous, but I have always had a traditional approach to reading. And reading off a weird, little device is a hugely different experience. What better way to get into it than with some fun, romantic reads?

Charmed by the Bartender was one of the choices that I went with and I started it with pretty low expectations, as it is also self-published (this is a topic for another day!). It was because of this that I was so surprised by the book.

This is a fun, charming read with characters that I absolutely adored. The romance was perfectly done and, of course, there were some hotter scenes that didn't feel over the top. Whit is an awesome character and I love her approach to romance and life.

And this is so funny! The dialogue is hilarious and flows so naturally between the characters, it is almost like watching a Cameron Diaz movie.

I enjoyed this so much, I went and bought the next two in the series, which follows Whit's two best friends and their romances.

If you want to try this out, go grab a free copy here. Just don't go hating me when you need everything else Paper Rayne has ever written.