Category Archives: Romance

Black Moon

Well!

What a book Black Moon is! The end of the trilogy Lee Weatherly set in her new dystopic 1940s, two thousand years in the future, after us Ancients caused the world to be destroyed by doing so many things wrong.

Mistakes are there to be repeated. Now that Kay Pierce has taken over the country and is busy killing anyone not to her liking, plus quite a few more while she’s at it, things look grimmer than ever. And the more you read you realise that this is WWII all over again. Just in a different place and with new people taking the place of those in our war. But the mistakes are the same and the consequences also.

And I believe this is what makes it so interesting, giving the reader a chance to look at what is the same but different. And to see how people still make the same mistakes despite knowing the fate of the Ancients all those years ago.

I’d been concerned about the love interest not taking a wrong turning, but there is of course always the problem with loving in a war to contend with. Who will survive?

Amity is a marvellous heroine and she is surrounded by great friends and lovers, and say what you want about President Pierce but she makes for a formidable enemy. Reading this third book made me marvel even more over the fact that Lee wrote it before the recent Presidential election, and still got it spot on.

I can’t recommend this trilogy enough. It’s the kind of read that makes you glad to be a reader and grateful that some good books are still published. I don’t – now – want more of this, but I do crave more wow-factor books. 650 pages can go so fast when you are having a fantastic time.

Release

This is a beautiful story. Release by Patrick Ness is, as he says in his foreword, a very personal book. And I believe this is what makes it what it is. I’m obviously not sure what is ‘real’ and what is fiction, but he points out that he was raised in a religion like Adam’s, and that fortunately he also had friends like his main character’s. I hope he had, and preferably still has, an Angela.

Modelled on Mrs Dalloway, ‘one of the three best books,’ Release takes place in one day, and this helps make it special. We follow Adam as he gets ready for a not-party, but a get-together that evening, to say goodbye to his former boyfriend Enzo, who is leaving town.

Patrick Ness, Release

Adam’s very religious parents are hard on him. They don’t want a gay son; they want a perfect preacher for their church, next generation. Adam wants what most teenagers want, a normal life with friends and lovers, an education and a job, and preferably a family where he can feel he belongs and is loved.

He does have the latter, because he can use Angela’s family, who are just what he wants and needs. I’m not sure if I’ve come across a better friend than Angela, who is very short, except in the ‘universes where I’m Beyoncé.’

There might be a new boyfriend. Adam isn’t sure. His perfect older brother is a nuisance, and not preacher material. The town has had a recent murder, so we also have a ghost wandering round on this day, and that’s not as weird as it might sound.

We – and Adam – learn that people are not always what they seem. Some better, some far worse, than you thought. And he still needs to work out exactly what he is hoping for.

For those who have always wondered about gay sex but were afraid to ask, Release tells you more than most YA novels, whether you’re the curious bystander or you’re gay but inexperienced.

I often ask myself if I really need to read the latest book by Patrick Ness. It didn’t take more than a few pages before I knew that I did.

I do.

Into Exile

Last we saw them, Kevin and Sadie were leaving Belfast in a hurry. In the third of Joan Lingard’s novels about the two teenagers from Northern Ireland, they are living in – relative – squalor in London. Married at Gretna Green, they are struggling to earn money, wanting to find somewhere better to live, but knowing this is all they can have for the moment. Both miss their tight-knit lives from their respective Belfast neighbourhoods.

But they discover that it is possible to make new friends and slowly life gets better, until a few new spanners are thrown into the works for them, in the shape of new workmates, girls down at the pub, an admirer for Sadie, and family troubles at home.

They know they want to be together, but it is so hard to keep going when life gets tough.

This is a beautiful time capsule, taking some of us back to the early 1970s, reminding us what things were like in those pre-historic days. And what this really is, is a typical tale of displaced people. It doesn’t matter which decade or where those people came from or why. There is always hardship, and suspicion from the locals, and even a lot of prejudice from the newcomers. I suspect this will never change.

Also, Sadie is very young – well, they both are – and impetuous, and it’s not easy not to spend too much money or not to want to go out and have fun. But Sadie happens to have a knack for making friends anywhere, which is a good thing, because you do need people when life is tough.

In Into Exile it seems as if most of their worries stem from the family back in Belfast, but they can’t go back. Or can they?

Sometimes all you need is a new colourful mug to cheer you up.

The Scarecrow Queen

Starting with the third book in a trilogy is not something I often do. If only one book from a trilogy is to be read, I tend to prefer the first, while also risking ‘having to’ continue, because once started you will want to finish.

Melinda Salisbury, The Scarecrow Queen

I only came across Melinda Salisbury a few months ago, when I heard much good about her first book, The Sin Eater’s Daughter. I was aware there was a second, but before I knew where I was, I found the third one, The Scarecrow Queen in the post, and after some agonising over time, I decided to jump straight in and begin at the end.

Which is not always a bad thing. It took me a while to learn who’s who (especially as Melinda doesn’t go in for the sometimes so tiresome explanations to help new – or forgetful – readers), but from then on it was almost as if I’d not skipped the first two.

A very bad Prince has ousted a good King and is now busy killing and controlling the people around him. This is fantasy, and he has golems and clay dolls at his disposal. He holds some of the good characters prisoner, while others are busy picking up the pieces from a devastating attack elsewhere. Twylla is the sin eater’s daughter and she is trying to get back to free her friend Errin, who is an apothecary, so that they can attempt to stop the Sleeping Prince.

This is a perfect fantasy for teenagers, with some strong female role models among the main characters. There is fighting and there is romance, and a lot of backstabbing as you hope you know who is on your side, while discovering who can’t be trusted.

Melinda avoids a too sugar-sweet ending, having kept the reader guessing throughout. I suspect the future will bring many more great books for her fans to enjoy.

The Apple Tart of Hope

Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, The Apple Tart of Hope

We’ve all known people like Paloma. Was she not in your form at school? She was certainly in mine. OK, perhaps the Paloma in Sarah Moore Fitzgerald’s The Apple Tart of Hope is somewhat ghastlier than average, but you know the type; perfect in every way, except she isn’t and she’s out to ruin your life.

And life was pretty good for Oscar and his best friend Meg. Until Meg had to move to New Zealand, temporarily, and Paloma moved into her house.

Oscar appears to have a special knack for being nice to people, and none more so than to Meg. Whenever he felt someone needed love and attention, he’d bake an apple tart. Yeah I know, not typical for 14-year-old boys, but Oscar’s not typical in the least. That’s why Meg loves him.

Then he disappears and is believed drowned. Suicide. Meg hastens back from the other side of the world, convinced Oscar is not dead. But there was a Day of Prayer for him at church, and Paloma ‘was his best friend,’ and nothing seems right. Meg and Oscar’s younger brother Stevie start searching for him.

This is a wonderful and gripping tale about young love and friendship and how easy it is for things to go wrong. Even when there is apple tart.

I’d wanted to read Sarah’s first novel but ran out of time, so I’m grateful I got to meet Oscar instead. He and I sat up half the night.

Wildthorn

Jane Eagland, Wildthorn

Wildthorn was Jane Eagland’s first novel, and what an absolutely marvellous story it is! I’m so glad I read it, after being aware of Jane’s writing for several years.

I’m not quite sure when it is set. I’m guessing the 1870s or 1880s. 17-year-old Louisa Cosgrove is travelling to stay with the Woodvilles to be a companion to a young lady. Instead she finds herself at Wildthorn Hall, where they address her as Lucy Childs.

Thus begins her nightmare, and Louisa discovers she’s been put in an asylum. She doesn’t at first know by whom or why, and she believes the ‘mistake’ will soon be rectified.

Interspersed with what happens to her at Wildthorn Hall, we learn what’s been going on in her life up till now, and the reader begins to guess.

There is much unpleasantness as Louisa’s life goes from bad to really very bad, with most of the staff more jailers than nurses, and many of the other patients either insane or also put there by family who for some reason wanted to rid themselves of someone inconvenient.

For that is what Louisa is. She wants to be a doctor. She doesn’t want to get married and have babies. And she loves the wrong kind of person.

That was enough to be put away, back then. (And I’d say it’s not always all that different today, in some ways.)

Louisa is strong, and intelligent, and she eventually makes what needs to happen happen. And she meets someone who helps her and believes in her.

Horrifying, yes. But also so enjoyable. Women needed to stand up for themselves, and they still do.

Charley Chambers

This was quite fun, in a teen sort of way. But then, Rachel Kennedy isn’t that long past her own teenage years, so that could be why. I am quite convinced young readers will like Charley Chambers, Rachel’s story about a 15-year-old with magic.

I don’t know where the story is set, but I couldn’t help picturing it somewhere not too far from me, which added a bit of spice. You know, having demons run around misbehaving, and magic teenagers with their L-plates on.

Charley is just discovering that the odd things that have always happened to her is actually magic, when she becomes friendly – very friendly – with two goodlooking boys in her form at school. And as is always the case (or so I find) when you have two boys competing for you, it’s hard to know which way to go.

First it’s the newfound magic, and the newly found boys that fill the pages. Soon though, it’s the threat to people Charley cares about, and lots of inexplicable things that happen. It’s the usual set-up; who to trust and what to do, and who might this mysterious stalker be, the one who causes mayhem all the time?

Rachel Kennedy, Charley Chambers

The book could have lost 50 pages, and possibly also a character or two. And the point of view is all over the place. While it is convenient to ‘hear’ what everyone is thinking, it’d be better if you were left more in the dark.

But the plot is exciting and it’s a fun story. Very teen, a bit romantic, and slightly Voldemort towards the end.