Category Archives: Contemporary reviews

Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan MatsonSince You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon and Schuster Children's on May 6th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 449 (hardback)
Format: Paperback
Source: Given From Publisher
four-half-stars
The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell. But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend.Apple Picking at Night? Okay, easy enough. Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what? Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find? Go Skinny Dipping? Um…

*I was given this book for review by Simon and Schuster. This in no way affected my review.*

So this review is far later than I planned :( . One for school and stress and part-time jobs. But also because I thought I’d posted it months ago! Sucks for me. Without further ado, here is my review that should hopefully make you want to read SYBG

SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GOOONE. I CANNOT BREATHE FOR THE FIRST TIIIME.

Since You’ve Been Gone is one of my favourite Summer books and was such a brilliant read. Emily is your average girl who hides behind her best friend Sloane. Yes, the premise is a bit cheesy (aren’t the MCs always boring and average?) but it’s relatable. Sloane abruptly leaves, and Emily is left friend-less all Summer. In the post she recieves a letter from Sloane with a list of things she must do. The list includes things like ‘dance at midnight’ and ‘hug a jamie’, I thought this list brought a fun element to the story and integrated nicely with the romance and ‘finding oneself’ plot.

This writing is along the lines of Gayle Forman’s, in which the romance isn’t the driving point of the novel, but rather Emily finding who she is without hiding behind an enigmatic best friend. I really liked Emily, and I surprisingly liked Sloane. Usually in these type of books where the friend leaves, the MC becomes insufferable and whiny. I know they’re missing their friends, I know. But I’m not reading this book to slog through pages of whining about their loneliness. Sorry.

Emily handles the situation really well–at first she’s a bit thrown–but for someone who’s not massively confident, she isn’t annoying and wimpy. SYBG handles friendships, love, relationships, etc etc–all the stuff I love, if I’m being honest. I adored how the main point of the book was for Emily to bring herself out of her comfort zone and do things she normally wouldn’t do. Summer books are so great because they always feel like they have so many possibilities. Anything could happen. This feeling of endless outcomes and situations is my favourite thing to read.

Emily’s character develops and grows really convincingly as she puts herself in situations she wouldn’t normally put herself in. The minor characters were also really enjoyable, and I learnt to really like them. Frank wasn’t my type of guy, but I warmed to him more than I thought, and himself and Emily were a perfect match. I got really excited for all the chapters and things on the list to get checked off.

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT : What I didn’t like was how easily Emily’s new ‘friends’ wrote her off. One quick mistake towards the end and these friendships kind of fell apart, what’s that about? Suddenly I didn’t like her new friends nearly as much. Nah. END OF SPOILERS END OF SPOILERS.

This book was an awesome Summer read, and I think it’s a must-read for those who love their Summer books. Despite it now moving into Autumn and cold weather, this Summer book might be necessary to warm you while you’re stuck in the cold.

Rating: 4.5 Stars– Morgan Matson I am following your new releases like a my dog follows food.

four-half-stars

Review: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

Review: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin RaeWish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
Series: Wish You Were...
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's on May 6th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 323
Format: Paperback
Source: Given From Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Pippa has always wanted to go to Italy … but not by herself. And certainly not to sit in art school the entire summer learning about dead guys’ paintings. When she steps off the plane in Rome, she realizes that traveling solo gives her the freedom to do whatever she wants. So it’s arrivederci, boring art program and ciao, hot Italian guys!

Charming, daring, and romantic, Bruno is just the Italian Pippa’s looking for—except she keeps running into cute American archeology student Darren everywhere she goes. Pippa may be determined to fall in love with an Italian guy … but the electricity she feels with Darren says her heart might have other plans. Can Pippa figure out her feelings before her parents discover she left the program and—even worse—she loses her chance at love?

*I was given this book for review, but it in no way affected my review or opinions–honest!*

This book. Man the cover is so cheesy I can’t get over it! It’s as bad as the old covers for Anna and the French Kiss (y’all who know what I’m talking about understand). However, this book has a lot to offer and I really enjoyed reading it!

Pippa doesn’t have the best relationship with her workaholic parents. For Summer they send her to attend an art course in Italy–something she’s not interested and doesn’t want to do. However, her mother told her about it a week before she was due on the plane. Her friend Morgan gives her a list of all the things she needs to complete for these 3 months (like the premise in Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson), and one includes: Fall in Love with an Italian. As Pippa arrives in Italy, she realises she utterly does not want to do this course…and she has a lot of money from her parents, so she decides to screw it, and travel Italy by herself.

I loved the self-discovery aspect of this novel, how the relationship with her parents developed, and the adorable romance. These Summer books are my favourite. I adore reading about travelling, and the fact that this was set in Italy, makes me yearn to go there myself. The list element of things she had to do was fun and exciting, it gave Pippa the push she needed to reach outside of her comfort zone.

The romance in this wasn’t sizzling or particularly amazing, but it was sweet in a way that is not always easy to find! Despite the fact that it wasn’t anything majorly exceptional, the romance was a really great addition to the story and fit nicely. I loved how his curly hair was a running joke between them!

I had a brilliant time reading the amusing and entertaining adventures Pippa goes through, along with the characters she meets and how she develops as a character in her 3 months in Italy. It’s amazing how something like this can make a person grow. It’s not an emotional romance or gritty or anything like that, it’s just a simple, pretty story to read in the sun. It’s feel-good, sweet, and a great Summer book. It will be going on my Summer recommendations pile!

Wish You Were Italian is the second book from the series Wish You Were…, however it can be read as a standalone, as I have not read the first. The cheesy covers are really off-putting, however I’m really interested in the other books now!!

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Rating: 3.5 Stars

three-half-stars

Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish DollerWhere the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's on September 24th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Goodreads
Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

I did enjoy Where the Stars Still Shine, but didn’t think it lived up to expectations. Everyone I’ve heard reviews from loved it–where as I was a bit disappointed. Callie was kidnapped by her mother as child and has been on the run for as long as she can remember. She only has distant, snapshot memories of her past life, but she knows she was kidnapped. Callie’s mother has a mental disability, and has not taken her prescribed tablets in years. Something happens that causes Callie to be re-united with her father and she has to dramatically change her lifestyle quickly and is expected to abide by a certain set of rules that weren’t in place before. This of course, causes issues.

Callie’s father, Greg, was such a sweet guy and I really loved him for it. They’re strangers to each other, Callie is 17 and grew up without a father figure. Callie has also grown up with abuse from her mother’s boyfriend/s. This is really the heart and trauma of the book. It affects Callie’s perception of men, and herself involving men. Callie adapted to this new lifestyle really well, but obviously she makes a lot of mistakes and has the tenancy  to run when things get hard.

Callie annoyed me in a lot of ways, because I felt she never tried to help herself. I could never, ever, understand the torrent of emotions and what she’s going through. However, sometimes she made things harder for herself and that frustrated me. Also, I never got a strong impression of her personality. She felt quite two-dimentional to me, because a lot of the book is obviously focused on her reaction to her situation, she felt a bit plastic. I’m not sure if this is intended though, because Callie’s never really had the opportunity to have a personality. Anyway, the whirlwind of emotions that tore through her was written beautifully and felt spot on–despite never having been in this situation myself. Callie’s torn between her wanting to love Greg, but wanting to be loyal to her mother; and even though she kind of hates her mother, her mother’s all she’s ever known.

There is romance, which I think added to the growth of Callie, because it caused her to overcome a lot of issues. Alex was a lot more sweeter than I thought he would be, but at the same time their relationship annoyed me. I thought they should have taken it slower, right from the beginning to contrast to her other relationships and show that it was different. I felt like she never really learnt anything, even though Alex helped change her perception of men.

Overall, I’ve never read anything like this before and enjoyed it originality the set-up. Even though I didn’t think it was outstanding, it was still a pretty amazing book and I would recommend it!

Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Review: Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Review: Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan MatsonAmy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon and Schuster Children's on May 4th 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
three-half-stars
Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn't seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she's coming to terms with her father's death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.

After Amy’s dad dies in a car accident, her mother decides to move to Connecticut. Whilst Amy’s brother is in rehab, and her mother is getting the house ready in Connecticut, Amy is alone in her house in California. She hasn’t driven since her father died, so to get to her new house in Connecticut, Amy’s mother organises her to be driven by her old childhood friend–Roger.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour was a fun read with serious undertones, but not something that astounded me. Ultimately, because the romance let it down. (Romance is very important to me and this didn’t tick all the boxes, sadly.) I felt very much for Amy on a personal level, because my father died of cancer, and Amy’s dad died in a car accident. This made it a pretty emotional book to read at times, because I could relate to a lot of her regrets and thoughts. There’s a lot of messages about loss, family, love and life that anyone can identify with.

I loved the travelling aspect of this, because Amy and Roger travel over a whole lot of states in America. America is somewhere I’ve always wanted explore and go on a road-trip to. The UK is so small, that it freaks me out how huge North America is, therefore, I found it so cool to find out that some restaurants  and chocolate bars are only in certain states. Every couple of chapters there’s a list of songs that are from Roger’s playlist, which was really fun, and every chapter there were pictures and recipes which added to the exciting imagery of travelling.

An aspect that I really enjoyed is how Amy steps out of her comfort zone, by defying her mother and by spending a lot of time with a cute guy, when she has spent the last 3 months in her house alone.  Amy’s mother annoyed me beyond belief. Her father dies and her mum decides to move house. I understand the reasoning behind this, but after such a massive change, Amy now has to deal with a new house, new school and all the other stresses that comes with moving states. On top of that, Amy’s mother refuses to have a proper conversation with Amy, and leaves her alone in the house for THREE MONTHS, after her father has died. Neglect anyone? That is simply not okay, and means Amy has to mourn alone. There are so many more things that made me hate her mother, but that would probably take up pages so…

Roger was a cute guy, but was a bit lost and blind to what he wanted. The romance is slow-building and sweet, but nothing mind-blowing. However, it’s not really supposed to be. The last couple of romances I’ve read have left something to be desired! UGH. Anyway, when they realised their feelings together, the novel was pretty much done and there was really no room for any scenes together, which disappointed me. I like to see how the characters are in their relationship and how it develops.

Overall, a cute novel and something I would recommend because it has a lot to offer (travel, dealing with death, romance, stepping out of you comfort zone), and really it was the romance that let it down. Otherwise, it’s a really great book.

Rating: 3.5 stars

three-half-stars

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Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published by My Kinda Book on September 10th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 445
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
five-stars
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

This book is all kinds of adorable and I loved it. Cath is a fangirl–if you hadn’t worked that out–and this is something many readers can relate to. Cath has a twin and does pretty much everything with Wren, because why wouldn’t she? However, when it comes to university, Wren doesn’t want to be roommates with Cath in a bid to be more independent. I really liked Cath’s character, because she was bookish and shy. She does not want to be rooming with some random person and make eye contact with them…and stuff. Therefore, she’s a little hurt, and turns into a slight recluse in her room.

I related to Cath in a lot of ways, particularly how much she loves books and in this case, a particular series. Except, I’m not her kind of fangirl. I don’t write or read fanfic, however, I do have posters and T-shirts like her. I loved that Cath was a really popular fanfiction writer, and loved writing about those characters.

Cath is a really shy person, and doesn’t really go out of her room at the beginning. She hates the idea of going to the cafeteria for the first time and having nobody to sit with. I get that, but everyone’s in the same boat at this point, so you might as well get it over with. Personally, I would make friends with my roommate or the people in halls, then go sit with them. But Cath just sits in her room and lives on protein bars for a couple of months! Oh my! By the time she makes her way down there, everyone’s already got their groups. So Reagan helps her out, and practically forces her down there to eat. Her roommate Reagan was so awesome. She’s my kind of person 100%. She says what she feels and doesn’t skirt around on bullshit. You know what to expect from her. Some think she’s rude, but really she’s just being real with you. I was more like Reagan personality-wise than Cath, because I’m not as shy as Cath. She’s really good to Cath, she helps her a lot, and without Reagan, Cath would have been a complete hermit. We all need friends that help us in ways we can’t help ourselves.

Then there’s Levi. Levi. Levi. I love Levi. So different from a lot of guy characters currently in YA books. He’s just so happy and smiley and genuine. He supported Cath in a lot of ways, and didn’t push her. He also has a very weird way of learning. He’s a dependant on auditory learning, and listens to lectures instead of reading. But he wasn’t stupid, he just learns in a different way and struggles with how things are taught, so he works harder. I could relate so much to this, except I’m a visual learner, and sometimes I find things harder to process–but I’m not stupid. I’m generally an A/B student, but I identified with Levi a lot in that respect. Cath is naturally a genius, and she gets a little lazy at times. It was so great how Levi just didn’t allow her to be lazy, because he works so hard for his grades and would kill to get amazing grades as easily as her. You go Levi.

Fangirl’s Cath has an obsession with Simon Snow, a character from their world’s Harry Potter. I didn’t grow up with Harry Potter, I’m a bit young and kind of missed the party on that. Therefore, I didn’t entirely relate to that aspect, but the overall Fangirl parts I did relate to.

I really, really loved this book. It was sweet, funny, interesting and something I could completely relate to. I’ve not read anything quite like it, and will re-read this again and again. This will definitely be added to my Contemporary Romance recommendations, and if you haven’t read it, you really need to!

Rating: 5 STARS!!

five-stars

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Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie WestThe Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Published by HarperCollins, HarperTeen on July 2nd 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
four-stars
Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

Caymen and her mother live in an apartment behind their doll shop. Caymen’s mother (Susan) has issues with rich people. When Susan was young, she became pregnant and was given hush money from her boyfriends parents to keep quiet about it and disappear. Her boyfriend left without a backwards glance and her parents disowned her–this caused her hate for rich people. Susan believes that they have short attention spans and only care about appearance. I always thought this premise was kind of naive, because it’s such a massive generalisation and doesn’t make much sense. However, this affects how Caymen perceives people and when an attractive, rich guy walks into her mother’s doll shop, she knows not to get too interested.

Caymen’s sarasm and dry humour is practically identical to mine–except she’s way more witty than me! She’s so deadpan that sometimes people can’t figure out if she’s being sarcastic. Her reaction to Xander was actually really funny, and the book continues in this amusing fashion, with funny remarks on every page. Xander is not my favourite book boyfriend but he was really sweet and he got Caymen and her character. They were both a little lost and didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives. Caymen is really poor and trying to keep the doll shop afloat with her mother, and Xander is R.I.C.H. (seriously rich) and his dad expects him to take over his hotel business–something he doesn’t want to do.

The romance was full of miscommunication, doubt and insecurities. It was really interesting to see how the amount of money someone earns divides social groups in such a huge way. Caymen lives in a fairly small town and she hadn’t even met Xander before, because he obviously hangs around in completely different social circles and goes to private school. Caymen only really has one friend, but a sweet, genuine friend at that. The romance isn’t sizzling, which is what disappointed me the most. It didn’t make me want to fan myself or want to dive in the book and marry Xander because he’s so amazing. However, I felt like Caymen and Xander had a really great connection, in that they understood what the other needed, and got each other like no one else. That’s what made the romance special to me, but no, I will not be adding Xander to the top of my book boyfriends list, despite how awesome his name is.

The Distance Between Us was a really great read but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Pivot Point (something Kasie West has also written).  I would recommend it, because the premise was different and entertaining, with a hilarious MC and fairly intense storyline.

Rating: 4 Stars.

four-stars

Review: Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt

Review: Skin Deep by Laura JarrattSkin Deep by Laura Jarratt
Published by Electric Monkey on March 5th 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 377
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
four-half-stars
Ugly people don't have feelings. They're not like everyone else. They don't notice if you stare at them and turn away. And if they did notice, it wouldn't hurt them. They're not like real people. Or that's what I used to think. Before I learned...After the car crash that leaves her best friend dead, Jenna is permanently scarred. She struggles to rebuild her life, but every stare in the street, every time she looks in the mirror, makes her want to retreat further from the world. Until she meets Ryan. Ryan's a traveller. When he and his mother moor their narrow boat on the outskirts of a village, she tells him this time it will be different. He doesn't believe her; he can't imagine why this place shouldn't be as unwelcoming as the rest. Until he meets Jenna. But as Jenna and Ryan grow closer, repercussions from the crash continue to reverberate through the community. And then a body is found...

Skin Deep is about a girl who is in a car crash and suffers severe burns, causing a large, disfiguring scar to mar along one side of her face. This accident has happened less than a year ago and the wounds are still fresh (literally and figuratively). Jenna doesn’t often go out anymore, for fear of the pointing and whispering from other people. Naturally, as a 14-year-old, she’s already got some insecurities about her appearance, but after this accident,  Jenna has understandably become more reserved and has only one friend.

Skin Deep was an incredibly emotion-inducing read. It was a brilliant blend of romance and contemporary that I love. Ryan is a traveller, who’s mum has Bi-Polar disorder and never wants to stay in one place. This time though, Ryan puts his foot down, and is set upon staying in this town for longer than usual–perhaps permanently. I loved the way the scars were handled, and how Ryan treated Jenna with the scars. At first, Jenna is incredibly sensitive and takes offence at many words that were not meant to be hurtful. Soon though, she begins to crack out of her shell and do things normal teenagers should do without a second thought.

Ryan is goshdang special, there is simply no other word for it. I have read many Romances and I have a lot of book boyfriends and Ryan is so incredibly different and so the same. As Ryan and Jenna fall in love, I was so happy for them and loved the way it was written. Ryan had this way of making Jenna feel beautiful even with her scars, which was a hard feat. He helped build her confidence and I’m sure, without him it would have taken many more years to gain such confidence. I thought they were genuinely perfect for each other. Together, they had their own issues, and it was very balanced the way they both leant on each other, and helped each other when they needed to.

The only thing that annoyed me about this book was Jenna’s father. In the accident, Jenna was with her best friend friends, who were smoking and taking drugs whilst driving. No, Jenna did not have the imitative to make them stop and let her out, and this caused the crash. However, I’m pretty sure she learned her lesson by the months it took her scar to heal–and is still healing. Also, with the emotional trauma of her best friends dying, and another girl dying. This doesn’t stop her father from stunting her emotional growth when she’s trying to re-build herself though. He constantly questions what she is doing, and shouting at her for trying to go out with friend. I get that there’s a trust issue after that crash and Jenna was close to dying, but that’s his problem–not hers. Her father is just so incredibly angry all the time, and sets up a local campaign in their small town to take a stand against speeding. But he doesn’t listen to her. Jenna hates this campaign, she feels uncomfortable being looked at, and no one treats her like a normal girl. Her father continually calls her selfish. It looks to me like the father needs therapy and not her. Perhaps it’s just my family, but if I was this uncomfortable and hurt by this campaign, my family would stop immediately. Okay. Rant over. Word of warning, this never really gets resolved, but I still loved the book.

Jarratt has crafted such an emotional and amazing book about first love, trauma, insecurities and re-building oneself. I loved it. It was exactly my kind of Contemporary and definitely a re-read. I read it in about two days, because it’s the kind of book you make time for.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

four-half-stars

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Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie PerkinsAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #1
Published by Usborne on December 2nd 2010
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 372
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
five-stars
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming,beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Anna and the French Kiss is such a fluffy, warm book that cuddles you when you read it. It’s about an American girl who gets sent to a boarding school in Paris for her last year of school. The boarding school is for Americans, and I loved the Paris aspect of the book. They say Paris is the city of romance, and that added to the magic of the book.

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Anna was such a joy to read. Her voice was hilarious, witty and something I entirely identified with. I just wanted to reach into the book and be her best friend. I read the first page, laughed and knew, just knew  this was going to be a 5 star read. Anna never annoyed me throughout the whole book–which is quite a feat! Her passion for films is like my passion for books, and she has a dream of becoming a film critic and writes on her blog. I could really identify with it, the way she would escape off to different cinema’s in Paris and watch old films. She jumps out of her comfort zone and into an entirely different country with, actually, not much complaining. Which is good, because no one wants to read about a big whiner. She embraces Paris a little later in the book and starts to learn French and grow up a little.

St Clair is so awesome and dreamy, he was the perfect mix of humour and sweet personality. He was also frustrating though! I wanted to hit him on the head sometimes because he didn’t know what he wanted! I loved the way they interacted and how genuine St Clair was…I just…dreamy sigh. Together, St Clair and Anna become close friends and explore Paris together, while the tension crackles between them. They didn’t just explore the usual tourist-y places, but also their secret places that made this book different.

Anna and the French Kiss is hilarious, gut-wrenching and amazing. It’s one of the most perfect YA Romances I’ve ever read. I can’t wait to read the next instalment of Lola and the Boy Next Door.

five-stars

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Review: The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop

Review: The Isobel Journal by Isobel HarropThe Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop
Published by Hot Key Books on November 7th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 208
Format: Paperback
Source: Given From Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
THE ISOBEL JOURNAL is no ordinary snapshot of a contemporary teenage life. A charming and vivid narrative scrapbook of the eighteen-year-old author's sketches, mini-graphic novels, photographs and captions, it captures her wit, her observations and her creative talent as she takes us through the three central themes in her life: 'Love', 'Friends, Art and Otters' and 'Me'.

*This book was given to me for review purposes by Hot Key Books, this does not affect my review in any way*

The Isobel Journal is a book filled with drawings, captions and photographs by Isobel Harrop, to illustrate her life. I’d never read this kind of journal-style book before, and wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s a style of book that I loved and will search for more of in the future. I was reading it when I was in exam mocks period, and it thoroughly cheered me up and made me forget all the stresses I had going on! There is something about this book that is so endearing and I’ve re-read it many times since my first read. Harrop’s voice is one that any teenager can relate to and enjoy. It’s the kind of book where you can sit down, get comfy, and drink a cup of tea whilst looking at the pretty pictures and funny writing.

The pictures are in the style of a scarp-book drawn by Isobel Harrop with observations about daily life and random comments. I found it so interesting to read about another teenager in this kind of format. It was quirky, refreshing and such fun to read through!

I really loved stepping outside my usual fiction reads and sitting down with this one!

Rating: 4 Stars!

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Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Review: If I Stay by Gayle FormanIf I Stay by Gayle Forman
Published by Black Swan on Arpil 2nd 2009
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 201
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought, Library
Goodreads
five-stars
In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heart-achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice Mia commands.
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If I Stay is one emotional book. Anyone who’s had experience with grief can relate to the premise (which is pretty much EVERYONE). Forman explores the boundaries between life and death, and the idea of having the choice whether to live or die. Mia is in a car accident with her parents and younger brother, and when her family are killed, Mia stays in a coma. We’re shown Mia’s perspective outside of her comatose body, as she watches events unfold around her and flashbacks are blended seamlessly to show her former life. She has a captivating dilemma of whether it’s worth living. Her family is dead, and she would spend the rest of her life grieving and living without her family. But of course she has hundreds of life prospects to look forward to, as she’s only 17.

From page one, Mia was a character I understood and liked. Maybe it’s because of her sarcastic and dark humor, or the way her character was presented, but she seemed like someone I could be best friends with. Forman has a way of pulling at the heart-strings in a particular way, I never sobbed my heart out, but her writing made me grieve for my own losses and I  teared up a few times. Her family situation was adorable; she had a boyfriend, a best friend, and an amazing talent at cello. There was no huge drama-llama, everything was so incredibly normal. This made the situation easy to relate to and powerful, because it reminds one that life is short and unpredictable.

I love romance in books, and it did play a part in If I Stay. Adam is probably one of the most realistic book boyfriends, and I love him for it. He’s the lead singer and guitarist in a rock band, but it wasn’t as cliche as it sounds. Forman didn’t make him a rock star to make us love him (okay maybe a little bit), but it was also really integral to the story. Music played an important role in the storyline, as it’s how Adam and Mia meet. It was something they were so passionate about and it  worked really well.

I’m not wasn’t a huge fan of contemporary, and honestly the genre has annoyed me at times. However, If I Stay has opened my eyes to the genre and made me see it in a completely different light. I loved the characters in this book, I loved the story line and the events. I’m so glad I picked it up, and will not sigh heavily when thinking about reading a Contemporary. Because if I read another Contemporary that I loved as much as this, I shall be very happpy.

five-stars

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Review: Geek Girl by Holly Smale (Geek Girl #1)

Review: Geek Girl by Holly Smale (Geek Girl #1)Geek Girl by Holly Smale
Series: Geek Girl #1
Published by HarperCollins Children's Books on 28th February 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 356
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
five-stars
She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn't quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she's spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did.

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?
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Geek Girl is an incredibly fun and feel-good book. It follows Harriet Manners’ shenanigans and mistakes in the model world. Harriet is impossible to dislike, she funny, quirky and (obviously) geeky, I had such a good time reading about her. I was ‘late to the party’ reading this, hearing rave reviews, but I never got the chance to pick it up. Well I finally did and I read it so quickly, it’s really easy to read and if you’re looking for something light—it’s perfect. Sometimes I get bogged down in Urban Fantasy, YA and Paranormal books, and I need a refresher, this was just what I was looking for. Also, the good thing about getting to a book late, is that you don’t have to wait for the sequel for as long. Model Misfit (Geek Girl #2) is set for release near the end of September. YAY!

There is a slight romance undercurrent that gave this book another intriguing layer, but it’s not the main focus. There are also friendship woes and bullying incidents. Harriet is a major geek with only one friend, so it was surprising when she got picked up by a model agency. When I was reading this, I thought it was very unrealistic, until I read Holly Smale’s bio and realised that that had actually happened to her!

Geek Girl is littered with geeky facts, and pop culture references like Lord of the Rings, which made me smile. It’s inventive and completely different to any Contemporary YA I have ever read before—it’s like a chick flick and reminded me of The Princess Diaries, where a young girls life changes over night and suddenly they’re the next big thing. Throughout the novel, Harriet never forgets who she is, or loses herself, in fact she downright protests being a model in the beginning—as she was actually thinking about being a palaeontologist.

I loved her relationship with her dad and her step-mother, it was amusing and surprising. Her step-mother was really practical and her dad was so funny, it really added something to the storyline and characters. I also love the cover! It’s so fun and adorable, it looks brilliant on my shelf!

Overall, Geek Girl is a must-read and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was the perfect read for a lazy Sunday and it left me smiling after I’d read it.

Rating: 5 Stars

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