Thursday, 27 December 2018

Review: Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton

I was attracted to this book because of the absolutely gorgeous cover which, as it turns out, is based on a design by Anna Maria Garthwaite, whose work was inspiration for one of the characters.

Blackberry and Wild Rose is set in London during the 18th century. Spitalfields is home to the Huguenot silk weavers and the main character, Esther Thorel, is married to one of the masters. When she rescues Sara Kemp from a brothel, she believes she is doing God's will. But, as the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished!

My husband is descended from Huguenot silk weavers but I knew little about them, so I found this story completely fascinating! It's well-written, with lots of detailed descriptions, both of the weaving process and life (especially for women) in the 18th century. This is the kind of story where the main characters are not completely likeable and their behaviour, sometime petty, has huge ramifications on all their lives. Despite this, I found their story totally engrossing; the only minus being that I'd have preferred the ending to have gone in a different direction!

I thoroughly enjoyed Blackberry and Wild Rose and have no hesitation in recommending it, especially if you love historical fiction with lots of lush period detail, and books such as Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist.

Thank you to Sonia Velton and Quercus for my copy of this book, which I requested direct from the publisher and reviewed voluntarily.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Review: To All The Boys I've Loved Before (To All The Boys #1) by Jenny Han

I downloaded this one after watching the Netflix adaptation during the summer, which I loved. This is probably the first YA romance/romcom I've ever read (if I read YA, it's usually fantasy) but I really enjoyed it. The film is mostly faithful to the book, although the ending is slightly different (but not in a bad way!)

Lara Jean Covey is the middle one of the three 'Song sisters', who are extremely close after the death of their mother a few years back. The only gift Lara Jean had from her mother, that was not duplicated to her sisters, is a teal-coloured hat box in which she keeps a bundle of love letters. These are not letters she's received but ones she wrote and never posted, letters written to help her get over the various crushes she has had over the years. Then one day, the letters are mysteriously posted, leading to all sorts of complications.

I'm not usually keen on stories that go into a lot of detail about the characters lives; I prefer to get right to the action! But I absolutely loved this book because of all the detail about Covey family life. I loved the way the sisters try to encourage their hapless father to get out and date again, by ironing his tie and practically shoving him out the door. I loved the down-to-earth humour of Lara Jean's 'fake' boyfriend Peter: "As soon as you and I are done, he's gonna pull some cheesy-ass move and, like, profess his love for you with a boom box. I'm telling you, I know how guys think." I even adored Lara Jean's eccentric best friend Chris, who turns up in the middle of the night for sleepovers.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before is sweet, funny, and heart-warming without even trying. The characters are adorable and I completely fell in love with them. So I have no hesitation in recommending it to fans of contemporary romance, romance and romcoms, whatever their age! One of my favourite reads this year.