Blogger Book Nook #10: Summer Holiday Romance

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The summer sunshine has finally come out to play, making it very much the season for romance. After all, nothing inspires feelings of love more than walks along the beach, snuggling up together under the stars, and sharing an ice cream in the sunshine. Summer is also the season for holidays (I have a LOT of holiday blog content coming up for you very soon!) and sitting by the pool gives us an ideal opportunity to pick up a light and frothy read, with romance being the ideal genre. This month, Tabitha and I challenged our Blogger Book Nook members to select a romance novel and I have *finally* got round to writing my post for the theme - better late than never, right?!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Blogger Book Nook, the BBN is a book club that my lovely friend Tabitha and I started as a joint initiative back in September of last year. Each month, we challenge our club members to pick a book to read that fits in with our monthly prompt, ranging from crime to movie adaptations. Every reading prompt is accompanied with a Q&A, posted on our active Facebook group. We're always looking for new members so don't be shy about asking to join us! Last month's theme was Time Machine, taking our readers on a journey into historical fiction, so big shoutouts go to Fleur, Steph, Zoe, Emma, Abbie, Joanna, and Hels for joining in and writing posts. Now let's move on to the romance!

Q1) Are you a fan of the classic summer romance read? Or do you tend to pick up another genre when you go on holiday?

Honestly, romance is never a genre that I would usually reach for. I find stories that are driven entirely by a romantic plot to be a bit boring. If the novel also includes elements of mystery, fantasy, or history alongside romance, I'm very happy to read but if the book is all about love, I switch off pretty quickly. I find a lot of modern romance novels to be a bit too cliché and too-good-to-be-true - most of the time you can predict the ending from a mile off. Yawn. Give me a thriller any day!

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Q2) Who’s your favourite romance author & what’s your favourite book written by them? 

Having read my answer to question one, it probably doesn't surprise you that I don't have a favourite romance author! I was pleasantly surprised when I read Lindsey Kelk's I Heart New York a while back that I wasn't able to predict the ending of the story. Sadly the book didn't make me want to reach for any of the sequels but I didn't mind I Heart New York as a fluffy summer read. I am looking forward to reading other bloggers' answers to this question to get some recommendations for great romantic reads, I may challenge myself to give them a try!

Q3) Love triangles.. Yay or nay?

I think that every teenage girl on the planet was invested in the Twilight love triangle when the books came out all the way back in 2005. Whether you were Team Edward or Team Jacob was the question on every tween's lips (I was Team Jacob by the way, especially after seeing Taylor Lautner in the movies - YUM). However, I often find love triangles quite a boring and frankly unrealistic trope in romance novels.

blogger book club review song achilles madeline miller romance summer

Q4) If you were stranded on an island, what book WOULDN’T you want to be stuck with?

Jane Austen may well have said that there's no enjoyment quite like reading, but sadly I would not want to be stranded on a desert island with only one of her books. I first read Austen when I was doing my GCSE's as Pride and Prejudice was one of our set texts but I found it so dull. More recently, I tried again with Northanger Abbey but again, I just couldn't get into it and struggled to finish the novel. Maybe being entirely alone with a Jane Austen book would inspire me to love her writing a little bit more (the impact of Stockholm syndrome, perhaps?) but then again, maybe not. Sorry Austen fans!

Q5) If you were a character in a romance novel, what would be your ideal/dream love story?

Hmmm, to be quite honest, I think my ideal love story would involve a giant chocolate cake that never diminished in size no matter how much of it I ate. Because really, what girl needs a soppy romantic hero to sweep them off their feet if cake is on offer? But if I *have* to choose a man (sigh), I'd probably go for a super rich sugar-daddy type who was always travelling the world so is never actually around, just sending me presents home. Noah from The Notebook just isn't for me!

blogger book club review song achilles madeline miller romantic

Mini Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

I know what you’ll probably be thinking when you see the title I’ve chosen for this post – historical fiction was last month’s theme, Abbey! But hold your horses, because there’s method in my madness. I decided that for June’s romance theme, I would try something a little bit different and instead of pursuing a romantic title that features your typical male and female leads, I would choose an LGBTQ+ relationship to read about in order to broaden my horizons. I think it’s so important to support books with gay, lesbian, and trans characters as the protagonists because everyone, regardless of their orientation, deserves to feel represented, whether that’s within the realms of fiction novels or outside it. My book of the month was The Song of Achilles by Margaret Miller, which is set in Ancient Greece, telling the tale of star-crossed lovers Achilles and Patroclus during the Trojan War.

The book is largely told from Patroclus’s perspective. He is a young prince shunned by his father after he kills one of his bullies in an uncharacteristic fit of anger. Patroclus is exiled to the island of Phthia, where Achilles' father King Peleus rules, to be schooled with a large group of other young Greek boys. As a shy and slight child, Patroculus doesn’t exactly fit in with the other boisterous warriors-to-be, but he ends up hitting it off with the godlike Achilles. As the boys grow up and Achilles is sent off to learn essential warrior skills from the centaur Chiron, his relationship with Patroclus turns from friendship to romantic. Patroclus is hopelessly in love with Achilles and worships the ground on which he walks, even following his beau to the dangerous Trojan War, where the Greeks are besieging the city of Troy to recover Helen, “the face that launched a thousand ships”, the wife of a Greek king who was stolen away by a Trojan prince. Achilles is not destined to survive the conflict but disaster befalls Patroclus too. I’ll leave it up to you to read the book to discover if either makes it through!

As I’m a huge history fan, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and it really kept me engaged throughout, despite the fact that I already knew from Greek mythology how it ended. The story was artfully written, depicting the enduring love between the two boys. The sexual elements were tastefully done. There were a few elements that grated on me a little bit, such as Achilles’ goddess mother Thetis’ disapproval of his relationship with Patroclus. Homosexuality wasn’t a big taboo in the ancient world and relationships between men were thought to be the purest form of love, so it seemed a little odd that she was so against it. I thought that she may have taken issue because Patroclus was a mortal and Achilles a demi-god, but then she didn’t disapprove of Achilles’ relationships with mortal women, so this didn’t seem to add up. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to experience a slice of love in the ancient world.

Until next time,

A x