Category Archives: Standalone

7664334

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

18278952

Review: Popping the Cherry by Aurelia B Rowl

Review: Popping the Cherry by Aurelia B RowlPopping the Cherry by Aurelia B Rowl
Published by Carina on September 19th 2013
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 250
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
two-half-stars
From driving tests to relationships, Valentina Bell thinks she’s a failure, with a big fat capital F. At this rate, she’s certain she’ll be a virgin for ever. So Lena’s friends plan Operation: Popping the Cherry to help her find the perfect man first time.

Yet somehow disastrous dates with bad-boy musicians and fabulous evenings with secretly in-the-closet guys aren’t quite working out how Lena planned.

Soon Lena’s avoiding Operation: Popping the Cherry to spend time with comforting, aloof Jake, her best friend’s older brother, who doesn’t make her feel self-conscious about still clinging to her V card. But could Jake show Lena that sometimes what you’re looking for most is right by your side?

A FOREVER for the twenty-first century
Buy the Book from Amazon UK

I enjoyed Popping the Cherry as a cute romance, but it frustrated me in so many ways. Our main character, Lena (or Tink, as the romantic interest calls her) is at school one day when her friends stage an Intervention to get her cherry popped. Or in other words, to lose her virginity. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with how this happened, as Lena then spent most of the novel on the quest to lose her virginity–or rather as I saw it–to fit in with her friends. Suddenly the premise didn’t look nearly as amusing, but kind of sad for Lena, who’s friends wrote a list titled Operation: Popping the Cherry.

Another thing that annoyed me was her best friend, Gemma. Said best friend does not approve of the actual person she is falling in love with, which is her older brother, Jake. She makes every snide comment and gives no support to Lena but instead pushes her toward disgusting guys who take advantage of her. Gemma came across as superficial and selfish, not once did she even have a reason for Lena and Jake not to be together, and was effectively stopping them both from being happy. The reason I feel so strongly over this is, because of Gemma (and admittedly other reasons), it takes them the entire novel to get together. Which unfortunately, is not my thing.  I like it when the characters realise they like each other and, you know, act like adults and just ask the other out. Then maybe have some complications in the relationship later. Sometimes it felt like they were in primary school playground, writing notes and thinking: does he like me? I won’t bother asking, I will sit on my hands and wait for something to happen for the ENTIRE novel.

Honestly, I have never known anyone so inept at reading signals. Sorry for that slight rant there, it was the main annoying aspect of the book, and otherwise it was an enjoyable romance. It wasn’t particularly complicated, but at times it was adorable, and I really liked the way Lena handled some of the situations maturely, unlike other books I’ve read with characters in the same situation. I love forbidden love, and that’s kind of what was in Popping the Cherry, except, I feel like I should’ve been given more reason as to why Jake and Lena couldn’t be together.

Also, there was a huge cliché with the main antagonist, Alice (or Malice, as Lena and her friends call her), was so predictable and boring. She was the Queen Bee that wasn’t satisfied until everyone is bowing before her. Yada-yada-yada. I just find this plot line to be so uninteresting and average. Rowl could have done so much better in that aspect.

I really liked Jake and Lena, it’s a shame everyone around them was so annoying. They should’ve just ignored everyone from the start and done what they wanted. Together, they had a really sweet romance–that may have dragged on slightly–but was adorable all the same.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

two-half-stars

Stir-Me-Up-by-Sabrina-Elkins

ARC Review: Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins

ARC Review: Stir Me Up by Sabrina ElkinsStir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins
Published by Harlequin Teen on December 1st 2013
Genres: Romance, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 268
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
five-stars
Cami Broussard has her future all figured out. She'll finish her senior year of high school, then go to work full-time as an apprentice chef in her father's French restaurant, alongside her boyfriend, Luke. But then twenty-year-old ex-Marine Julian Wyatt comes to live with Cami's family while recovering from serious injuries. And suddenly Cami finds herself questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Julian's all attitude, challenges and intense green-brown eyes. But beneath that abrasive exterior is a man who just might be as lost as Cami's starting to feel. And Cami can't stop thinking about him. Talking to him. Wanting to kiss him. He's got her seriously stirred up. Her senior year has just gotten a lot more complicated….

This was such a *sigh* worthy romance. I read it in two sittings and I loved it. Julian, has been given an honourable discharge from the Marines when he was wounded in an IED explosion. He was trying to pull three other people to safety when there was a second explosion, and he was the only one who survived. One of his legs has to amputated, and he sustained many other injuries and obvious emotional scarring. He’s not in a good place and when our main heroine Cami meets him for the first time in his hospital bed, he angrily shouts at her to leave the room. Except, Julian is Cami’s stepmother’s nephew and soon Julian moves out of hospital and into Cami’s room, and consequently, they are forced to see each other every day.

Poor Cami was put out by not having her own private space, but Julian desperately needs the care Cami’s stepmother, Estella, is willing to give. Cami is attending her last year of school and works at her French father’s restaurant–Etoile. She loves cooking mostly French food, and bakes some muffins for Julian in goodwill–he throws it at her head. Commence the angry insults that are thrown at each other. I enjoyed Cami’s love for cooking food, it added to the storyline, and gave her more depth. She was an enjoyable character to read about, because she was so relatable. She goes to school, she has a best friend, she studies, she flirts with a hot Marine…wait, what? Where’s my hot Marine? *Ahem*, anyway, she had a feistiness and friendliness that made me want to be there baking muffins and laughing with her.

Stir Me Up explores the after-math of war in individuals, and the effects of loss. Julian and Cami warm to each other in a slow-burning way, that is believable and sweet. This book is wholly satisfying for Romance-lovers, and prefect for those cold days to snuggle under the covers and get caught up in a highly amusing and adorable romance.

Julian is one sexy marine *swoon*, and Elkins made the connection between him and Cami feel tangible. Cami has no idea what she wants to do other than that she wants to be a chef, and Julian and her share that uncertainty towards their future. I had such a good time reading this, I urge you to read it.

Rating: 5 Stars

five-stars

acidheadline

Review: Acid by Emma Pass

Review: Acid by Emma PassAcid by Emma Pass
Series:
Published by Corgi Childrens on 25 April 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
Pages: 431
Format: Paperback
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.

The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.
Buy the Book from Amazon UKBuy the Book from Amazon USABuy the Book from The Book Depository

I really enjoyed this Dystopia world, I thought it was interesting and engaging. Jenna is the protagonist and I really enjoyed the amount of times she changes identities and goes undercover, because it’s not something I read often in YA. Surgeons entirely change her face’s appearance at least twice, which seemed offhanded and casual; and even though it’s possible to do so in the present day, I’ll admit that it threw me a bit. Jenna is your typical Dystopia heroine–strong, and fought for her beliefs to stay alive. She didn’t really have any choice. In the second half is where I found Jenna to be the most brave and courageous, I can’t say anything without spoiling it, but it was a really interesting plot twist that changed my out-look on the story.

The plot and overall conflict of Acid was intriguing, but I think at times the characters were lacking a little bit in the depth department, simply because everything was fast paced and happening so quickly. It never really slowed down enough to focus on minor details or the complexity of Jenna or anyone else’s character. However, it was a gripping novel, full of twists and turns, with scene changes and also slow, tense parts that kept me reading.

There is a little bit of romance, but not huge amounts, but enough to satisfy me, because I like my under-lying romance. If there were any more, it would seem forced, as there aren’t many opportunities in Acid for there to be many romantic scenes.

Acid is very fast-paced, there’s always something happening and Jenna is always on the move or undercover. The Dystopia world was fairly extensive, and had very interesting elements to it. Once reached the age of 16, teenagers are required to be partnered with a random person of the opposite sex to live with the rest of their lives and they’re called ‘Life Partners’. Eventually, the couple get a notification to say that they are ready to have a baby, and that’s that. People don’t think anything of it, it’s simply the norm. Note: opposite sex, no same-sex relations at all, and it always makes me sad to see society go back a couple of steps from where we are now. I find that in a lot of Dystopia books, life is restricted like this and the new government controls them. Every aspect of people’s lives were monitored and listened to, with England having been completely cut off from any other countries and all citizens ignorant on what life is like outside of our small country.

It was extremely refreshing to read a book set in the UK, and I was so glad to read another UKYA book! Lucy at Queen of Contemporary is always insisting we read more UKYA books, and I know I don’t read enough. I’m trying to support books written by UK authors, as well as books that aren’t American, because I read a lot of books written by American authors.

I seriously recommend Acid, if you’re on a Dystopia trip right now. It is a standalone novel, so no pesky wait for another book; it’s gripping and you don’t have to invest loads into it, because you know it’s going to wrap-up nicely.

Rating: 4 Stars