28 December 2014

Campus Cravings: Higher Learning MM Anthology Review

Hey everyone,

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas? Before you ask I myself had a wonderful time with my family. As I had slightly more time over the festive season than I would usually I decided to read Campus Cravings a seven-hundred plus pages long MM anthology all focused around the imaginary Cathia University. In my personal and humble opinion this is an anthology with some okay, good and great stories but keep reading for a more detailed review!

The book:

Nominated for 2014 Goodreads M/M Romance Group Member's Choice Award

Welcome to Cathia University, where school is in session! Nine of today's hottest gay romance authors have crafted brand-new interrelated novellas celebrating everything wonderful about college, including sophisticated professors, sexy teaching assistants, ambitious grad students, and spirited undergraduates, all looking for the same thing: an A+ in true love.

My thoughts:

This anthology has nine stories in and is I spoke about each one it would take ages and potentially get a bit boring. To avoid both those issues I'm going to focus on my favourite stories from this anthology and then give a brief summary of my thoughts on Campus Cravings towards the end.

My favourite story from this anthology was Artistic Endeavour by Whitley Gray. I loved it! Arguably this is the story most detached from Cathia University life, as it features an ex-alumni and the new Fine Arts Professor and much of the story takes place in the surrounding town rather than the University Campus. For me this story was brillant due to the two leading male characters, Michael and Cobey; particularly Cobey. Introduced through Mutual friends Michael is asked to guide twenty-five year old virgin into the world of gay sex.

Given that premise this story was sex heavy and was in fact incredibly sweet as we learn why Cobey has reached the age of twenty with next to zero experience. Michael was a complete sweetheart and the perfect guy for shy and nervous Cobey despite being initially presented as a player.

Another brillant story in this anthology was Winning Bracket by Annabeth Albert, a romance between two dorm advisors and best friends. Edwin and Ollie stole my heart from the first chapter of this story! A story of two friends who are suddenly seeing each other in a diffferent light.

Edwin was an adorable nerd with some self-esteem issues whereas Ollie was a confident party guy with an obsession with jocks. Throw in a sporting event and a bet equals the perfect recipe for a great university mm romance.

Another one of my favourites from this anthology was Lessons Learned by Dalton Diaz a story of second chances between PhD student Adam Warren and soon-to-be graduate Tyler Ford. The two are reunited during a summer class taught by Adam about psychology in sports. This story had a little bit of angst in it, as both Adam and Tyler tried to overcome the ghosts of their past relationship.

Although at time I felt like the fact that Adam was studying psychology was shoved in my face a little too much I though Diaz did a good job of showing how the couple dealt with overcoming pasts mistakes. I particularly liked the use of flashbacks and thought for such a short read it was really well flesh-out and detailed.

The final story I want to talk about individually is Switching Leads by Mia Downing, which revolves around the Equestrian team at Cathia University and in particular the Coach and his assistant. I really liked this story as even though it was short and concise it dealt with a lot of serious issues that added a depth and realism too the story that I personally really enjoyed.

John and Finn use to date when they both attended Cathia University but a bad break-up led them down completely different paths. For me this was a story of forgiveness and love as it dealt with an arguably already established couple. Although it had a University setting it felt more mature and ‘adult’ than some of the other stories in the anthology.

Overall I really liked Campus Cravings and would happily re-read five or six out of the nine stories offered to us. I will be honest like most anthologies I thought some of the stories were a little flat and underdeveloped but generally I have only good things to say. I loved the university setting and subtle cross-overs between the stories that made them feel connected without being forced. Highly recommend this anthology especially considering the price.

My rating:
Happy reading everyone and see you next time!

22 December 2014

The Hidden Women Series by Stella Knightley

Hey everyone,

This will be my last post before Christmas and as such I have decided to make it my virtual Christmas gift to anyone who has read this post and others from my blog over the last few months. I'm amazed how many of you, and from so many different countries have actually tuned in and read my rambling words about my favourite book genre in the world. Thank you.

I'm going to keep it short and sweet as I know this is an incredibly busy time for people around the world, and for those of you who don't celebrate Christmas just think of this as a lovely December gift from me to you.

Well I hope you all think it's lovely, if you don't just do the fake smile and quickly move onto a better gift trick, I'll pretend not to notice don't worry!

My gift is in the form of a reccomendation but instead of a single novel I offer you a whole series to enjoy over the Christmas period. The Hidden Women Series by Stella Knightley is potentially my favourite series read this year and I would highly, highly recommend it! For a start the covers are simply beautiful

Each books in the series follows Sarah Thomson a historian who appears to focus on the forgotten women in history. The ordinary women in history who lived extraordinary lives. In each book she is based in a different city for research purposes; first Venice, then Paris and finally Berlin. The cities are almost a character in themselves and become such an integral part of the story both past and present.

19 December 2014

The Christmas Widow by Jillian Eaton

Hey everyone,

In keeping with the festive season, today I’m reviewing The Christmas Widow by Jillian Eaton, a sweet historical romance novella set during Christmas. So without further ado I give you...

The book:

Known as “Mad Lady Bea” by the townspeople of Blooming Glen, Lady Beatrice Tumbley has not left her estate since the tragic death of her husband on Christmas Eve. Terrified of the outside world and the dangers lurking within it, she lives in complete seclusion, determined never to love again. 

Until one cold, snowy night a handsome stranger comes knocking… and shows Beatrice her heart is not quite as frozen as she believes it to be.

My thoughts:

I want that dress. It is so pretty that I don’t even care that I have absolutely no where to wear it. I could dance around the house and pretend I was a princess from the olden days... Anyway enough with my insanity and on with the actual review for The Christmas Widow by Jillian Eaton.

16 December 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - The Romance

Hey everyone,

Yesterday I went to see The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies and it was potentially the best film I have seen this year. I loved it! Although this is hardly a surprise as I am a huge Lord of Rings and The Hobbit fan. I loved it so much I decided why not write a post about The Hobbit and the romance within it.


Also before I start, if you haven’t guessed I will be focusing on the romance elements present in Battle of the Five Armies. I loved the film for lots and lots of reasons but for this post I am merely focusing on this element. If you didn’t like the romantic additions to the film feel free to stop reading here.

Now we all know that Peter Jackson made quite a few changes to The Hobbit story, one of these being the romance between Kili and Tauriel. Now I know some people will have hated this, others will have been indifferent and then others, like me, will have LOVED these two in The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug. From witnessing the Jail scene in DoS I was shipping these two, I wanted them to get together and have Dwelf babies. I mean just look at face, even by this point he was clearly in love.

So knowing the changes Peter Jackson had already made I was hopeful that Dwelf babies, or at least the possibility of them would happen in The Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies. I mean why add this romance plot just to take it away again?

13 December 2014

Romance, Chick Lit & Saga!

Hey everyone,

So I have something slightly different for you all this week, rather than a book review I’ve decided to do a expose style thing on the differences between Romance, Chick Lit & Sagas. 

Now as some of you may know, I don’t really like Chick Lit despite having read quite a lot of in my teenage years, and I have never read a Saga in my life! So to help me with this post I’ve invited two of my closest friends in the world to help. Like any good romance blogger I convinced these two to try the romance genre and since then they have found their own sub-genres to enjoy. So without further ado I’ll let them introduce themselves.

Hi there! So I’m Rachel, I met Lucy at university and as an avid reader myself, we soon became firm friends. I had never intentionally picked up a romance book before meeting Lucy, but I increasingly do so now although I tend lean towards historical Sagas.

Hey, I’m Catherine, like Rachel I met Lucy at university, and as expected with these two enjoy reading. I rarely pick a Romance for the romance, but instead the sub category, with paranormal and regency being my favourites. I have to say that Lucy has opened my eyes to the romance genre, though I still adore my non-romances.

So now everyone is introduced I think it’s time to get on with the topic in hand. Now when I first started exploring the romance genre I would often accidentally pick up a Chick Lit or a Saga thinking it would be a Romance. I know some people will happily switch between Romance, Chick Lit and Saga without any problem, but for me their has always been distinct differences.



10 December 2014

David’s Selfie by Daisy Harris

Hey everyone,

As we are now firmly in the Christmas period I decided it was time I read and reviewed a Christmas themed romance. Seasonal romance aren’t usually something I love, however, when I saw that Daisy Harris had released a new book, called David’s Selfie, that was set during the Christmas period I couldn’t not buy it as she one of my favourite authors.

The book:

When David, a single father, vows to get laid just once before the year ends, he doesn’t figure on losing his cell phone—and with it one very revealing picture. Lucky for him, his phone is found by a disarmingly handsome man who might be perfect for the kind of casual Christmas fling David is after.

Go-go dancer Craig never would have guessed that the guy with the cute cock shot would turn out to be a doctor. Or that he’d find himself lying about his night job and worrying David will find out the truth. To complicate matters, each of their hook-ups requires days of planning. Yet before he knows it, Craig has a new boyfriend, and possibly a whole new family.

David’s ready to dive head-first into something new, but if Craig’s going to commit, he’ll need to come clean about his job, his past, and—most of all—the naughty picture that drew him to David in the first place.

My thoughts:

This book just made me smile. It was a happy, lighthearted, funny, sexy m/m contemporary romance with two great main characters. David is struggling to balance fatherhood with dating after the death of his wife and at the beginning of the book is braving the world of online dating. Luckily for David (and Craig) his intended ‘date’ turns out to be a little on the kinky side for our nervous, nerdy doctor, leading to his eventual meeting with Craig. I loved David as a character; he was so nervous and unsure about some things but so confident, kind and understanding in other ways. As the man himself states:

7 December 2014

The Vintage Girl by Hester Browne

Hey everyone,

I wasn’t originally going to review the audiobook version of The Vintage Girl by Hester Browne, it was a book I purely listened to because I enjoyed the story. When I pick a book to review I feel I to have something intelligent to say about the book. I need to make a note of what I did and didn’t like and although it doesn’t lessen my enjoyment of the romance genre it does change how I approach reading it.

This week I felt like taking a reading holiday, I just wanted to read books I enjoyed rather than ones I thought were appropriate to review (basically I try to review more recently published books and keep the genres varied, nothing sinister before you get the wrong idea). But as soon as I finished this book I wanted to talk about it, I wanted to share my thoughts and opinions, despite how long ago it was originally released, or the fact that its already been hugely successful and has loads of reviews. So these are my thoughts and opinions on The Vintage Girl and I apologise if I just end up repeating what thousands have probably already said.

The (audio)book:

When Evie Nicholson is asked to visit Kettlesheer Castle in Scotland to archive the family heirlooms, she jumps at the chance. Evie's passion for antiques means that, for her, the castle is a treasure trove of mysteries just waiting to be uncovered. 

But in each heirloom lies a story, and in the course of her investigations Evie stumbles upon some long-buried family secrets. Add handsome, gloomy heir Robert McAndrew and a traditional candlelit gala to the mix, and Evie's heart is sent reeling with an enthusiasm that may just extend beyond the Kettlesheer silver....

My thoughts:

Time to let you all in on a little secret, I heavily dislike chick lit, and I hope i’m not the only romance reader to think this. It isn’t that chick lit is bad (although really can we pick a less insipid name) it just isn’t my cup of tea and I dislike how romance and chick lit are often paired together, as if the two genres are interchangeable, when as any reader of either genre will know they have subtle but significant differences. In many ways The Vintage Girl leans slightly more towards chick lit than I would usually be comfortable with, and if it had been a book rather than an audiobook I proudly wouldn’t have brought it.

4 December 2014

Rover Defiant by Anna Markland

Hey everyone,

I know, I know I'm an awful person who totally didn't post yesterday! In my slight defence I was in bed all day with flu but I realise this is a pitiful excuse so you have my full and humble apology. Today I'm reviewing The Rover Defiant by Anna Markland, a romance between a Viking noblewoman and a former Thrall or slave.

The book:

Torstein is a free man, but the Viking nobility will never forgive or forget he was once a slave. The high-born woman he loves has too much pride to give herself to a former thrall.

My thoughts:

I brought this because firstly I love viking romances and secondly all the reviews were highly positive and raved about its excellence. So despite my misgivings about the covers (too much flesh/mascara) and the shortness of the blurb I decided to give it a go. I can’t say this is a decision I regret but I also doubt this is a book I will re-reading or recommending. The plot of The Rover Defiant revolves around Torstein’s and Sonya’s forbidden love due to differing social class. I love forbidden love stories, it is one of my favourite tropes and this book had it in spades. Torstein in particular had a lot of insecurities due to his former position as a slave.