Going into “Five Survive” by Holly Jackson, I didn’t know what to expect, but I ended up enjoying the story so much. This is my second Holly Jackson book, “A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder” being the first one, a book I devoured! Five Survive was different because I listened to the audiobook, but Holly Jackson’s writing was still incredible.
There is something very odd about driving to work and listening to a story about six teenagers going on a road trip in their RV, and they’re suddenly being held at gunpoint. But this is the kind of atmosphere that excites me, and I can proudly say I enjoyed my eventful drives to work. There is an interesting, psychological game in the story. You take six characters that know each other or are related to one another, and you threaten to kill them. Unless one of them gives you a secret. And then you let time pass by and you’ve got yourself a social experiment and an incredibly intriguing story for a book.
It’s that suspense of people breaking under pressure, revealing their deepest secrets and doing incredibly brave and reckless things in order to rescue the situation. All common sense goes out the window and only the survival mode is unlocked. The author has perfectly described the chaos that ensues in this vehicle in the duration of a few hours, all whilst giving every character a background story deep enough so we stay invested. Even though all the characters are equally important and have their own stories, I feel like Red stood out to me. I cared for her just a little bit more and felt for her. I also had chosen my villain in the story, and although I won’t reveal any names, I really wanted to slap this person and I am glad how that story wrapped up in the end.
In terms of the plot twists and reveals, I knew which person’s secret would be the one that matters, but I could not have predicted the other twists at all. Once some clues were revealed, (bad time for a knock, knock joke?) I could guess the majority of the rest, but I wouldn’t have figured it out on my own. If you want to read a fast-paced “escape-room-esque” YA mystery, “Five Survive” is a great place to start.
About The Author:
Holly Jackson was born in 1992. She grew up in Buckinghamshire and started writing stories from a young age, completing her first (poor) attempt at a book aged fifteen.
‘A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder’ is a YA Mystery Thriller and her debut novel. She lives in London and aside from reading and writing, she enjoys binge-playing video games and pointing out grammatical errors in street signs.
On the lookout for historical romance, one particularly set in the Victorian era? Read “His Runaway Marchioness Returns” by Marguerite Kaye.
I am extremely grateful to have received a signed copy of this book by the author herself. Not only that, but she also included a gift made by her own fair hands and I love keeping all my pens and pencils there. If you’re not familiar with Marguerite Kaye, she has written a lot of historical romances and her most recent book aside this one is her collaboration with Sarah Ferguson for the Buccleuch Family series, with “Her Heart for a Compass” and “A Most Intriguing Lady”, a book I still need to read myself.
From convenient marriage…
To inconvenient attraction!
Industrialist Oliver—the new Marquess of Rashfield—has become Society’s most eligible bachelor. The problem is he’s already married! Honourable Oliver conveniently wed his best friend’s sister Lily years ago, but since then they’ve built separate, fulfilling lives. Now Lily has returned for a long-overdue divorce, but Oliver needs his Marchioness until he secures his inheritance. They’ve never shared a house… sparks are sure to fly!
The story of Oliver and Lily is very tranquil and unproblematic. They have their past of already having an arranged marriage and Oliver’s situation regarding his inheritance is proving difficult, so they’ve come under the conclusion to marry again. With the new marriage comes a lot of introductions and parties, something I greatly enjoyed while reading the book. Lily’s life in Paris was an interesting change in scenery. I loved her love for theatre and fighting for the performers’ rights.
It was very well flagged, how taboo it is for a woman to be in such an industry and profession and how ill perceived it was at the time – almost always associated with a bad reputation. I liked that Oliver’s views were modern regarding this topic as well as his views on his farms and how business should be run to benefit the workers. What I fear is that this wasn’t really the case. Usually at this time workers had to protest to get their say and it wasn’t always down to a good Marquess that changed the status quo.
I enjoyed Lily and Oliver’s romance. It was a slow burner at first, and then a case of not letting their true feelings show. Both tropes that I quite enjoy in a romance. It’s certainly one of those books you take with you to escape reality for a moment. My only reason for marking it a bit lower is that it’s not as memorable as other similar books I’ve read and I fear it will soon get lost with the other historical romances.
About The Author:
Marguerite Kaye is a prolific historical romance author hailing from Argyll’s West Coast. She is a voracious consumer of books, Scotland’s world-class larder, and the occasional cocktail.
After reading “The Stepsister” by Jennifer Donnelly, I was keen to start “Poisoned” and read Snow White’s reteiling, but I wasn’t impressed.
Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen’s huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman pulled out his knife… and took Sophie’s heart.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule – a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she’d heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong…
With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can’t extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.
Sophie, the main character, has a heart of gold that we instantly see. Then, the huntsman actually stabs her and takes her heart, leaving her dying in the forest. The lovely seven men in the house in the woods help her stay alive by building her a clockwork heart. This is probably the only things different compared to the Snow White story, aside for the King of Crows part.
For me, it felt like reading the original story again and that wasn’t why I picked this book up.
In “The Stepsister” , although it’s the Cinderella retelling, it was all about the stepsister and the author had the freedom to create her own story. However, here, Sophie just followed the trope of the original Snow White tale. I liked the metaphor of the heart – people losing their will, and their faith in the kingdom ruled by a ruthless queen. The metaphor of their freedom being taken away when ruling by fear is implemented.
I enjoyed Snow White losing her heart and then going on the adventure to find it. Although, I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy the part about the King of Crows and his connection to the queen. In the end, it felt like everything the queen had done was because she was forced to do it. This ended up making her not the true villain and having no responsibility nor accountability. What about all those people in the kingdom that suffered from her ruthless hands?
That being said, I liked the revelation of how the people in the kingdom lived. The promise of a better tomorrow with a queen that actually cares about her people. I also enjoyed the romance that wasn’t actually the main point in the story or a crucial element in the book plot. It was one of those cute side plots that kept me interested.
In the end, a bad taste in my mouth still stays with me after reading the book. There wasn’t a lot of originality and after I finished it, it felt like I finished Snow White, not a retelling.
About The Author:
Jennifer Donnelly is an American writer of young adult fiction best known for the historical novel A Northern Light. A Northern Light was published as A Gathering Light in the U.K. There, it won the 2003 Carnegie Medal, recognizing the year’s outstanding children’s book.
She lives in London and her debut novel, No Life for a Lady, will be published in Spring 2023.
Reading The Forty Rules of Love was like enduring a spiritual journey myself! What made this experience even more incredible was that I read this book whilst I was on a road trip across Europe last summer.
Genre: Historical Romance
Format I read it in: Paperback
Discover the forty rules of love…
Ella Rubinstein has a husband, three teenage children, and a pleasant home. Everything that should make her confident and fulfilled. Yet there is an emptiness at the heart of Ella’s life – an emptiness once filled by love.
So when Ella reads a manuscript about the thirteenth-century Sufi poet Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, and his forty rules of life and love, her world is turned upside down. She embarks on a journey to meet the mysterious author of this work.
It is a quest infused with Sufi mysticism and verse, taking Ella and us into an exotic world where faith and love are heartbreakingly explored…
Even though there is the usual synopsis – this book is so much more than that. Through the lives of Ella, Rumi, Shams of Tabriz, Aziz and many more characters, we were transported to Turkey! And through their stories, we experience love, faith, poetry, freedom and self-fulfilment. Diving into these pages not only made me feel all kinds of ways, but it amplified these feelings.
The culture, the places, the people and the raw emotions spoke to me in a way I haven’t felt in a long time from a book. Perhaps it has to do with the fact I was born in Macedonia. Perhaps with the fact I’ve been to Turkey a couple of times, especially to Konya – a town that features in this book very often. But I think regardless of my biases and experiences, this book would have had the exact same effect on me. It’s so beautifully written and once it was all over, I wanted so much more. I cannot recommend it enough! Below I have listed a lot of my favourite quotes from the book. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did!
“If a stone hits a river, the river will treat it as yet another commotion in its steady tumultuous course. Nothing unusual. Nothing unmanageable. If a stone hits a lake, however, the lake will never be the same again.”
“Love came to Ella as suddenly and brusquely as if a stone had been hurled from out of nowhere into the tranquil pond of her life.”
“For despite what some people say, love is not only a sweet feeling bound to come and quickly go away.”
“The Path to the Truth is a labor of the heart, not of the head. Make your heart your primary guide! Not your mind. Meet, challenge, and ultimately prevail over your nafs with your heart.”
“Intellect and love are made of different materials. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises. ‘Beware too much ecstasy,’ whereas love says, ‘Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!’ Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.”
“Most of the problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstandings. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.”
“Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn to see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be so shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome.”
“Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”
“Personally, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with sadness. Just the opposite – hypocrisy made people happy, and truth made them sad.”
“The whole universe is contained within a single human being – you. Everything that you see around, including the things you might not be fond of and even the people you despise or abhor, is present within you in varying degrees. Therefore, do not look for Sheitan outside yourself either. The devil is not an extraordinary force that attacks from without. It is an ordinary voice within. If you get to know yourself fully, facing with honesty and hardness both your dark and bright sides, you will arrive at a supreme form of consciousness.”
“Did you know that in mystic thought forty symbolises the ascent from one level to a higher one and spiritual awakening? When we mourn we mourn for forty days. When a baby is born it takes forty days for him to get ready to start life on earth. And when we are in love we need to wait forty days to be sure of our feelings.”
“If you want to change the way others treat you, you should first change the way you treat yourself. Unless you learn to love yourself, fully and sincerely, there is no way you can be loved. Once you achieve this stage, however, be thankful for every thorn that others might throw at you. It is a sign that you will soon be showered in roses.”
“While pretty flowers are instantly plucked, few people pay attention to plants and thorns and prickles. But the truth is, great medicines are often made from these.”
“How can love be worthy of its name if one selects solely the pretty things and leaves out the hardships? It is easy to enjoy the good and dislike the bad. Anybody can do that. The real challenge is to love the good and the bad together, not because you need to take the rough with the smooth, but because you need to go beyond such descriptions and accept love in its entirety.”
“Language, he said, did more to hide than reveal the Truth, and as a result people constantly misunderstand and misjudge one another. In a world beset with mistranslations, there was no use in being resolute about any topic, because it might as well be that even our strongest convictions were caused by a simple misunderstanding.”
“In this world take pity on three kinds of people. The rich man who has lost his fortune, the well-respected man who has lost his respectability, and the wise man who is surrounded by ignorants.”
About The Author:
Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into fifty languages.
An advocate for women’s rights, LGBT rights and freedom of speech, Shafak is an inspiring public speaker and twice a TED Global speaker, each time receiving a standing ovation. Shafak contributes to major publications around the world and she has been awarded the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. In 2017 she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people who would make the world better. She has judged numerous literary prizes and is chairing the Wellcome Prize 2019.
The Seven Sisters is one of those books that whilst you read it, you know you’re reading something special. And once you’re finished, you wish you could read it again for the very first time.
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format I read it in: Paperback
Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings.
Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to complete his vision. Izabela—passionate and longing to see the world—convinces her father to allow her to accompany him and his family to Europe before she is married. There, at Paul Landowski’s studio and in the heady, vibrant cafes of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again.
“Well, as a true artist knows, every rule is there to be broken, every barrier to be pulled down. We have one life, mademoiselle, and we must live it as we choose.”
The book holds so many stories, each of them beautiful and intriguing in their own way. First, we dive into Atlantis, in Pa Salt’s world – and meet his six adoptive daughters. Pa’s death gathers all sisters together and we get the glimpse of their personalities.
But this book’s focus is on Maya, the oldest sister. From Switzerland, her destiny brings her to sunny Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and through the streets of Paris, France. Through Maya, we go a few decades back and witness another love story, also shared between Brazil and France, with the connection of how the Cristol got built and the many secrets that structure holds. Every page kept me glued to the book and I couldn’t put it down in the evenings.
Between three different timelines and two love stories, I thought I’ll have a hard time remembering everything. But the story is so well written that not once did I have an issue. Firstly, I loved getting to know all the sisters. The family dynamic reminded me a bit of the Umbrella Academy. I also loved getting to know Maya and through her -Bel. Bel’s story was heart-wrenching. Her sacrificing her own happiness just to please her family was truly heartbreaking. I loved watching her blossom in Paris and I also enjoyed that the statue of Cristo was part of the love story and the book.
Lucinda combined history and fiction and created a masterpiece. I will cherish this book so much and cannot wait until I get my hands on the next one. Five amazing stars from me.
“I think we often don’t deserve what we get. But then, maybe in the future we get what we deserve.”
About The Author:
AKA: Lucinda Edmonds Lucinda Riley was born in Northern Ireland. After an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her books are translated into thirty-seven languages and sold thirty million copies worldwide. She is a No.1 Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.
Lucinda’s The Seven Sisters series, which tells the story of adopted sisters. It is inspired by the mythology of the famous star cluster, has become a global phenomenon. The series is a No.1 bestseller across the world with total sales of over fifteen million copies.
Lucinda and her family divided their time between the UK and a farmhouse in West Cork, Ireland, where she wrote her books.