Lavinia’s Book of the Month: August

Hello! Those amongst you that are the noticing kind might have noticed that we’ve been a bit quiet recently. Well noticed! 

Having had a good summer break, we’re back and raring to go for the autumn term. Lots of nice people sent through lots of exciting new books for review during the holidays, and we’re looking forward to working our way through them over the next weeks and months.

So, without further ado, here’s our friend Lavinia, with her Book of the Month for August…


fearless flying.pngFearless Flying – Karen Gordon

The time has come again for my Book of the Month!

This month’s book is a bit of a cheat one – it’s written by a Twitter friend of mine, and it’s not yet available for purchase through Amazon etc., but I was so excited about it that I wanted to share it as my Book of the Month.

Fearless Flying by Karen Gordon is – at first glance – a charming contemporary romance novella. Certainly if that’s what you’re in the market for, you will love this. But I also found it grew deeper as I read on – there’s a lightness of touch about the characters and situations which makes it a pleasure to read, and the depth of significance is subtle. Particularly, our heroine Vivey is engaging and “real”. Usually I hate that – people describing fictional characters as “real”. But if – like me – you’re tired of reading ingenue heroines who are swept up by men, then you’ll love Fearless Flying. I’m sorry I can’t give you a link to own it right now!

There are lots of great little touches throughout – including tiny planes to mark new sections in the typesetting, which I particularly appreciated.

Reading the work of someone you know – even if it is e-friendship via Twitter – is always tense, but it’s joyful too, when you realise that you can whole-heartedly recommend it. Of course, I guessed that Karen and I had similar tastes when we bonded over Outlander (sploosh) and Arthurian literature, but I am so so happy to make Fearless Flying my book of the month, and you’ll just have to watch this space to read it for yourself!

You’ll love this book if: 
– You like engaging female main characters
– You like a good romance
– You’re into contemporary women’s fiction

You might want to avoid this book if:
– For some reason you dislike graphic sex scenes in novels, no matter how enjoyable😉

lavinia collins authorLove Lavinia xoxo
Find this book online – read the first part for free!

Lavinia’s Books: May and June

Every month, our friend Lavinia Collins is going to share with you a book she’s read and recommends. As Lavinia has been busy with the release of the last part of her Queen of the North trilogy, and with the upcoming paperback edition of the series, we’ve decided to put her May and June choices back-to-back.

The Edible Woman – Margaret Atwood

edible woman.jpgAn oldie, but a goodie. The Edible Woman is one of the older and less well-known of Atwood’s works, but it is by far my favourite. I’m slightly cheating because I re-read it rather than read it for the first time this month, but here it is.

The Edible Woman tells the story of Marian, a woman who works at a survey company and is engaged to Peter, a boring man who likes to have sex in the (dry) bathtub. She tries to run away from him (literally), is collected, scolded for being silly, and returns to her life. But the quiet frustrations of everyday sexism – microaggressions, perhaps we could call them now – wriggle under her skin, and Marian finds herself going progressively off her food.

The Edible Woman is a wonderful book, because it is so subtle. All of the little niggles and digs are small and everyday. There is nothing wrong per se with Peter. There is nothing wrong per se with Marian’s life. There’s something about her frustration which is so real, and something about the way it manifests – in the quiet refusal of more and more food – that is at once so real and immediate and so keyed in to a tradition hundreds of years old of women silently objecting to their circumstances by refusing to eat, from fasting nuns in the early middle ages to suffragettes in the early twentieth century. When you can’t control anything else, you can refuse to eat.

This book is also so much more than a feminist parable. It’s funny, it’s light, it’s ambiguous at the end – we are left with the question: who is trying to consume whom?

I would highly recommend this as a first Atwood for anyone who is yet to read her, one for Atwood lovers, and one to re-read. It’s perhaps the most mundane of her works in terms of subject matter (most similar in tone to Cat’s Eye), but in this ordinary setting she achieves so much. I cannot recommend this book enough.

You’ll love this book if:
– You like humour with an edge
– You have ever been a woman

You might want to avoid this book if:
– You secretly (or indeed openly) hate women


everyday sexism.jpgEveryday Sexism – Laura Bates

June’s Book of the Month is (!) a non-fiction book.

This book was lent to me by a kind and beloved friend, and I thought it would just be everything I knew, set out in nice neat statistic form. I’ve seen Laura Bates talk, and she presents a very clear-cut case. She’s angry – of course she is – and utterly sick of this shit, but she’s calm. Ordered. Logical. This book is the same. Broken up sensibly into neat categories and set out with factoids and headings, it is a very rational book.

I found it quite emotional to read. I expected to a little, but I was surprised by the toll certain sections took. Would I say it was a fun read? No, I don’t think I would, but it is an important one. To tackle a problem that affects all of us – because sexism is not just women’s problem – we must see it for what it is. Systemic.

You’ll love this book if:
– You’ve been dismissed in one too many conversations and told that ‘feminism is irrelevant’
– You don’t mind looking hard facts in the face
– You want to be armed with cold hard info the next time you get into an internet dispute with a Reddit neckbeard (jk; they don’t care about info)

You might want to avoid this book if:
– You are sensitive to sexual violence and harrassment triggers
– You have ever unironically used the #notallmen hashtag

lavinia collins authorLove Lavinia xoxo
Find The Edible Woman on Amazon
Find Everyday Sexism on Amazon


Throne of Glass (Series) – Sarah J Maas

Rating: 3.5 stars

throne of glassAlthough here at Chapter and Verse, we like to review indie authors and go off the beaten track, after reading and reviewing A Court of Thorns and Roses for this site, I found myself curious about the much-hyped Throne of Glass series.

Like Thorns and RosesThrone of Glass is a reimagining of a fairy tale in a historically amorphous Young Adult setting. In Throne of Glass, Cinderella’s cruel stepmother and ugly sisters are replaced by a life as a child assassin and a hard time down a salt mine. The charming prince knows who she is, and has brought her into the palace to compete as his champion for a prestigious court position which will likely involve more professional murder for the crown. Seems like a smart move.

I really enjoyed the first Throne of Glass book. It had everything. Romance, intrigue, grisly murders, humour, magic. Our hero, Celaena, is a grumpy underdog who is pleasantly comfortable with her own sexuality, gaily checking out every man who crosses her path. There were a few things that irritated me as a reader – we’re told the contest is going to have lots of stages, but only three of them are actually described and a lot is reported “off-stage”. I could have borne fewer stages and to have had a bit more action.

But all in all Throne of Glass was a brilliant read. Fast-paced, full of drama, a great heroine. I thought it was wonderful.

crown of midnightHere comes the rub. I had loved Throne of Glass so I tore right on into the perplexingly-named Crown of Midnight (tbh I also do not recall an actual throne of glass, but that’s a bit more beside the point), which I also enjoyed. But over the course of this book something developed that rather killed the rest of the series for me. Celaena develops from a complex, struggling woman into a Mary Sue. She’s so beautiful that everyone who ever meets her fancies her to the max immediately; she’s all kinds of chosen one – she’s the best fighter, got the most skills, everyone is constantly impressed with her – and it just gets a bit wearing. The great strength of Throne of Glass was a heroine who was struggling, who was complex. Through the second and into the third book, Heir of Fire, Celaena just becomes this incredible wildcard, capable of doing anything, and any sense of vulnerability is lost, even as she appears more emotionally vulnerable – because even the long conversations she has about her feelings detract from that complexity.

I’m very sorry to say that I stalled in Heir of Fire and I couldn’t finish it. Two thirds of the book could have been served by training montages and it felt very slow. When I saw that there were at least two more books in the series I found myself rather short of energy. Everything scales up, and the humour, intimacy and grittiness of the first book (and, to an extent, the second) is gone.

Louise CAV ReviewsReviewed by Louise

Find this series on Amazon

Lavinia’s Book of the Month: April

Every month, our friend Lavinia Collins is going to share with you a book she’s read and recommends.

The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier

Just like her famous novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Chevalier’s The Lady and the Unicorn imagines the female muses behind the bewitching and beautiful Lady and the Unicorn tapestries now in Paris’s Musée de Cluny. If you haven’t seen the tapestries, you really should: they’re gorgeous.


In The Lady and the Unicorn we switch between multiple perspectives: Nicholas, the artist; Claude, the daughter of the patron and one of the figures Chevalier suggests that the tapestry depicts; her mother, the inspiration for some of the other figures; and characters at the Brussels lissier that weaves the tapestries, including Alienor, the weaver’s blind daughter who loves her garden and can feel colours in the wool.

The book is pacy, sensory and engrossing. Just as the tapestries themselves potentially express the senses of sight, taste, touch and smell, the book is loaded with sensuous and sensory description. Nicholas is the most beguiling character – a swaggering artist and incorrigible slut, he is nonetheless able to charm the reader as much as the various women who fail to see through the self-interest in his charms. Chevalier gets the balance just right – Nicholas is a jerk, but he’s a jerk you can’t help but love. Perhaps it’s something to do with his seemingly supernatural ability to bring even the nervous virgins he encounters to the giddy heights of pleasure without too much of an effort (!). This is a far cry from the rather wide-eyed ingenue Griet in Girl with a Pearl Earring – and in my personal opinion is much more charming.

I completely adored this book. It was over too quickly, but that was because I couldn’t put it down. I love these tapestries, and I loved Chevalier’s imagining of their production. From my perspective, a must-read!

lady and the unicorn chevalier.jpgYou’ll love this book if:
– You like historical fiction
– You like romance
– You like books
– You can read

You might want to avoid this book if:
– You have no taste

lavinia collins authorLove Lavinia xoxo
Find this book on Amazon

Lavinia’s Book of the Month: March

Every month, our friend Lavinia Collins is going to share with you a book she’s read and recommends.

The Grave – Diane Dickson

diane dickson.jpgI couldn’t tell how much I was enjoying Diane Dickson’s The Grave until I lost my Kindle charger and ran out of battery 60% of the way through, and felt as though I was suffering from a grave emergency. The Grave is a fast-paced gritty crime thriller. I’m actually not a regular crime fiction reader, and I stumbled across Dickson’s book because we are published by the same publishing house, and I thought I’d give it a try. 

We open with a body being disposed of, and we (or I!) think we know what’s going to happen, but the story unfolds with many twists and surprises. The story follows Samuel, a secretive man with a dark past, and Sylvie, a fragile young woman with a difficult history. Samuel lives in the forest, so for a while this story made me think of that Dolly Parton song where she falls in love with a weird forest man called Joshua (listen to it now), but that’s by-the-by. Samuel’s savvy, together and strong, and Sylvie’s constantly in tears. But (and I don’t want to say too much about this) the story and the characters are deeper than that: Samuel is also vulnerable; Sylvie is also strong. And what feels at the beginning as if it could turn into a male-orientated crime story with a female accessory, quickly diverts from that and offers so much more. 

You’ll love this book if: 
– You like mystery/crime fiction with a twist 
– You’re looking for something gritty 
– You’d like typical crime grit but with some decent female characters for a change 

You might want to avoid this book if: 
– You’re sensitive to graphic violence and graphic sexual violence 

lavinia collins authorLove Lavinia xoxo
Find this book on Amazon

Lavinia’s Book of the Month: February

Our new feature. Every month, our friend Lavinia Collins is going to share with you a book she’s read and recommends.

seacrest 2.jpgThe Seduction of Sophie Seacrest – Mary Campisi

I got this book free through a BookBub promotion and I was looking forward to a bit of frivolous romance fiction. I was not disappointed. If you haven’t signed up for BookBub yet go and do it immediately! Free books and offers every day tailored to your interests – what more could you want?

But back to the matter at hand: The Seduction of Sophie Seacrest. This booked ticked all of the boxes for historical romance fiction. And I mean all of them. Bodices were ripped. Swoons were swooned. Our hero is a tall, dark handsome stranger, returned from a mysterious life at sea with a dark secret. He assumes a false name and returns to his family estate. His family are old enemies of the Seacrest family who live nearby. The daughter, Sophie, is beautiful (of course) with auburn hair and flashing eyes. She’s wilful, too, defying the conventions of society by being universally considered gorgeous and desirable and being wholeheartedly well-liked by everyone she meets. Sophie’s just your typical virgin capable of multiply orgasmic sex at the drop of a hat (or the rip of a bodice). Your typical girl next door. The scene is set, and romance and intrigue can begin! Throw in a mysterious avenger, a sick little sister that needs Sophie’s care and an unpleasant suitor who she almost has to marry.

There were no surprises in this book, but we don’t read romance fiction of this kind for surprises. It’s true-to-type, steamy and entertaining. There’s lots of steamy assignations and society intrigue, so if that’s your bag, read away!

You’ll love this book if:
– You’re looking for a true-to-type historical romance
– You like tall dark handsome strangers
– You don’t mind female genitals being referred to as ‘her woman’s heat’

You might want to avoid this book if:
– You don’t want to take romance conventions with a pinch of salt
– You’re looking for a “serious” read.

lavinia collins authorLove Lavinia xoxo
Find this book on Amazon

A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas

Rating: 5 stars

court of thorns and rosesI didn’t want to like this book, mainly because I have a great problem with people who spell fairy “faerie” because they think it is all “mystical”, but I enjoyed this so much that I even got over that.

This is just a great fantasy romance novel. It’s very exciting and absorbing – I read it in one go on the train (it was a three hour train) and I couldn’t put it down once I had got into it. It’s obviously written by someone who knows a lot of fairy mythology and who has cleverly incorporated this into a “beauty and the beast” style narrative. But that’s then taken one step further.

By far my favourite section was the last third, which I won’t spoil, in which Maas moves away from the source material and into something more original. It really comes to life there, and I will very much look forward to the next instalment. This third section does contain the easiest riddle EVER – I’m not sure how many smug points an adult woman can garner from finding a riddle for tweens easy peasy, but anyway…

There’s a deal of pearl-clutching on Amazon and Goodreads because this book has been put in the 11+ age bracket and it contains some s.e.x. (chorus of gasps). Obviously, it is the prerogative of every parent to make the decision based on each individual child, tween, etc. whether they are comfortable with them reading this stuff, but when you can flick past violent rapes on game of thrones at 9pm or read abusive stalking dressed up as romance over someone’s shoulder on the tube, I’m not sure that an eleven year old reading some explicitly consensual sex based in a deep emotional connection and mutual trust would be too disturbed. In fact, as a rare and welcome depiction of a woman with her own sexual desires and preferences I would probably encourage girls of the 12–15 age bracket to read this. After all, sex ed is on the secondary school syllabus from Year 7 so they will know what it is.

Aside from this, there are lots of women characters in the book that are just characters, and this struck me as (upsettingly) unusual. As in, they would not have needed to be women for the plot to work – usually there’s the main woman, the love rival, perhaps someone’s mother, but this book was populated by complex women and men loving complex lives, and I was shocked at how refreshing I found this. More of this kind of thing, please!

Louise CAV ReviewsReviewed by Louise

Find this book on Amazon