Monday, February 26, 2018

UK Recap Fit For a Queen // Books Abroad

If you've been following on the blog or Instagram, you know that Hannah and I were traveling in the UK--but kind of don't bring it up or I'll cry all the tears of sadness that 1. I'm no longer with her 2. I'm not in the UK anymore and 3. I'm no longer with Hannah. I didn't think it was possible to love her more but it was! I am mourning the loss of this trip still today but I digress. While we were there, we did a UK Recs series for books, TV/Movies, and places we love; we thought we would do a parallel 3 day recap talking about books, what we did, and a back home mug life!

While I didn't read that much while I was away, I did manage to get a few books read via planes, trains, and late nights. I'm also very happy to report, with the exception of one, all the books I read were freaking great! When I travel, I tend to load my kindle with fun romances or adult contemporary or review books from fav authors I've been saving which did not changed for this trip. My first choice books for this trip were STILL ME by Jojo Moyes, HOW TO WALK AWAY by Katherine Center, MARRY IN SCANDAL by Anne Gracie, FATAL THRONES by an assorted array of authors, and some Julie Garwood rereads!  Hope you enjoy!

STILL ME BY JOJO MOYES • It is no secret Jojo Moyes is a favorite author of mine. Prior to Still Me I've been eagerly anticipating a NEW book by her, not a collection of short stories or continuation of a previous series. I take this back after having read Still Me. The final installment in the story of Lou Clark was everything I didn't know I was waiting for and more. Lou Clark is back with her quirky wardrobe, manic-level of optimism, and so much more. It felt like catching up with an old friend while I was reading. I fell effortlessly into the story and was engaged immediately. I loved the trials Lou faced, I loved her tenacity, and most of all I just loved her. She's real and relatable and flawed. The story took some turns I wasn't expecting but in a good way. I'm clearly not giving too much detail because I don't want to ruin any plot aspect and as it's the third in a series I don't want to ruin it for future readers--if you haven't read Me Before You, you need to get your life right. If you're a fan of Jojo Moyes, if you hated After You, you need to read this book. Ask Hannah and Cass if I haven't convinced you, this final book is more than worth the read even if you disliked After You!

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center was a top book of the year for me when I read it. I even reread it recently in one sitting and fell in love even more. When her newest book showed up on NetGalley I had to snatch it up! I, again, read this in about one sitting. This story was a difficult one to read as the heroine suffers a horrific accident that changes her life forever. What was so refreshing, if not a little awkward at times, was the attitude of the heroine Margaret. While it felt completely realistic for her to have bad days and bouts of depression, overall I found her positive attitude incredible and not an attitude I could personally have. The family dynamics were taut with clashing personalities and family secrets of past. The overall arc of Margaret's story was hopeful and uplifting but nonetheless real. I thought the conflicts were great and, again, realistic. The only gripe I have is sometimes the dialogue felt awkward and the epilogue was very weird to me. It had this odd sense of poignant reflection that did not fit with the rest of the story. It didn't really affect my feelings about the book but was just kinda bizarre to me. The story and characters are what really stole the show for me and if you're looking for a difficult but inspiring character-driven story, this book is for you!

MARRY IN SCANDAL BY ANNE GRACIE • Another non-secret of mine is I am obsessed with Anne Gracie! Her historical romances are an incredible breath of fresh air with their incredible female friendship positivity, family dynamics driven plot, and swoony romances. Marry in Scandal was no exception! I got the email for this eARC the DAY I was leaving for London and clearly the timing couldn't have been more perfect! As with Marry in Haste, this marriage of convenience was delicious. The chubby, forgotten sister of the Rutherford clan never expected anything in her love life but it didn't stop her from dreaming of it. Lily is a doll. Sweet, kind, intelligent, and full of grit. She is not one to take anything lying down and I loved that about her! The hero, Edward, sees Lily for exactly who she is and I looooooved him for it! He never saw any of her "flaws" that she sees. What I also loved about this book, and Anne Gracie in general, was the short-list of unnecessary conflict. There is conflict among the couple to be sure but it's never drawn out. My biggest gripe with recent historical romances is this idea they have to be pushing 400 pages and draw everything out, I can't stand that. This book and author never does that. The plot is tight, the romance is swoony, and the drama is realistic and concise. Love love love. If you're looking for a new historical romance author to fall in love with who feels like a breath of fresh air, Anne Gracie is your girl!

FATAL THRONES BY VARIOUS AUTHORS • My obsession with Anne Boleyn and the Tudor era is widely known. When I got the email pitch for Fatal Thrones, I jumped on it. A book from all six wives POVs with a little Henry VIII thrown in? Duh. Sadly, this was the one book that didn't work for me. The writing was erratic and anecdotal but it didn't flow or make sense. Well, seeing as I know the history it made some sense to me but I'm thinking of a first-time reader and the frustration would be next level. The aspects they put in for Katherine of Aragon were bizarre and, to me, 100% inaccurate. The Anne Boleyn chapters were all from the days prior to her death with a few flashbacks. Henry was unsympathetic per usual and just annoying. I DNF'd when I got to dumb (my opinion) Jane Seymour. If you're looking for a great Tudor book or first time Tudor book to get your started, read Katherine Longshore's series or Alison Weir or Philippa Gregory even, leave this one for the scaffold. 

THE SECRET BY JULIE GARWOOD • I only ever bring one physical book with me so why not, again, bring my favorite Scottish historical romance to reread! I loved every second spent with Judith and Frances Catherine and Iain; their story never gets old to me. It's especially fun to read while I'm there being so close to places they've 'been' even if they are fictional. I even did a gift guide for Galentine's Day inspired by the friendship portrayed in the book. I cannot say enough about this amazing story and I'm already looking forward to rereading it again! 

Don't forget to check out Hannah's Books Abroad post about what she read while we were traveling!

*Please note--Every book above publishes in April or May with the exception of Still Me*
I was too excited not to post mini-reviews after reading them on my trip so go pre-order these bad boys!

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