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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

Enclave by Ann Aguirre (Razorland #1)

Enclave by Ann Aguirre (Razorland #1)Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Series: Razorland
Published by Macmillan, Square Fish on April 11th 2011
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
Pages: 259
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
four-stars

Enclave was a really awesome read about ZOMBIES. I’m pretty obsessed with zombies at the moment, so this was facilitating my zombie love because they were a significant part of the novel. However it wasn’t like most zombie apocalypse books, where the entire book is about surviving the zombies. Zombies, or “Freaks”, were a big part of the plot, but there were a lot of other obstacles the characters had to overcome.

Deuce is part of an enclave underground and has been training her whole life to become a Huntress. They patrol the grounds, learn to fight and keep the Freaks away from the enclave. No one in the enclave has been aboveground because if they do, they believe they will die.

Deuce reminded me of Katniss, because of her slight unfeeling nature toward some things. She’s slightly ignorant towards people and doesn’t have a lot of emotional intelligence. However, I did like her, and simply felt sorry for her in some instances. She’s been living underground her whole life, and random things would crop up sometimes that seem obvious to us, but a revelation to her. Things she never knew about, like what chocolate was. C’mon. NOT KNOWING WHAT CHOCOLATE IS. I have to admit, that stood out to me more than some of the other instances.

The entire community of the enclave is corrupt and downright awful. Understandably though. None of the people brought up there were taught differently. Still, I did wonder why none of them actually though for themselves! Their whole community was a bunch of sheep, not questioning anything. The fact that they were underground, meant they had no idea of what was surreal. They could have been told marshmallows fell from the sky and believed it.

This is a book I’ve not heard much about but really recommend. The world is completely different and interesting. I read a whole book on it, yet I could read two more and still be fascinated. The characters have room for growth, and even developed in this instalment. I’m really interested to read about how Deuce changes, but also the more minor characters. There’s even enough romance to satisfy me, but again, there was this reminder of The Hunger Games and similarities between the two. I’m not going to delve into that now though, it’s complicated to explain, but if you’ve read it, comment and tell me if you understand! The only thing that was really lacking throughout Enclave was humour. The lack of humour gave this novel a brittle edge, and was hard to read at times because it’s so bleak.

Rating: 4 stars.

 

four-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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Mini Reviews: Wallbanger by Alice Clayton and Slammed by Colleen Hoover

by Alice Clayton, Colleen Hoover
Published by Omnific, Self-Published Genres: New Adult
Source: Bought

The first night after Caroline moves into her fantastic new San Francisco apartment, she realizes she’s gaining an intimate knowledge of her new neighbor’s nocturnal adventures. Thanks to paper-thin walls and the guy’s athletic prowess, she can hear not just his bed banging against the wall but the ecstatic response of what seems (as loud night after loud night goes by) like an endless parade of women. And since Caroline is currently on a self-imposed dating hiatus, and her neighbor is clearly lethally attractive to women, she finds her fantasies keep her awake even longer than the noise. So when the wallbanging threatens to literally bounce her out of bed, Caroline, clad in sexual frustration and a pink baby-doll nightie, confronts Simon Parker, her heard-but-never-seen neighbor. The tension between them is as thick as the walls are thin, and the results just as mixed. Suddenly, Caroline is finding she may have discovered a whole new definition of neighborly…

In a delicious mix of silly and steamy, Alice Clayton dishes out a hot and hilarious tale of exasperation at first sight…

Wallbanger, now this was interesting concept. It was pretty refreshing to read a more adult romance-y book. I’ve heard lots of recommendations about this, but was put off by the blurb. I simply don’t think it’s as witty as it wants to be. Sorry. However, I was pretty busy when reading this, and wanted something easy to read that I didn’t have to commit to and this was pretty perfect. The romance builds from the main characters hating each other, to friendship, to love. I really enjoyed all of the stages and how they grew to be the perfect couple. Simon and Caroline seemed to fit really well and I just loved reading about them.

I thought Wallbanger was funny (if a bit hit and miss at times), romantic and I thought Simon was pretty awesome and funny. It was great to read two people who didn’t take things too seriously, as some books are so melodramatic at times.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she’s losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.

Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

Poetry is very prominent in Slammed, and although I wasn’t the biggest fan of poetry before, this book has made me realise that I haven’t read the kind of poetry I like yet. It blended really well into the romance and sad storyline. There’s an element of forbidden love here, not something I was massively keen on, but it ended up working out pretty well.

There’s a student-teacher relationship, something I don’t tolerate and think is creepy (with exception to Vampire Academy), but Will is only 21, and working as a teacher to pay the bills. His parents died and he’s had to take care of his younger brother since he was 18. I felt for his situation, which was ultimately awful, but Will’s utter love for Caulder was so nice to read.

These were some great New Adult novels, it was fun to explore this genre a bit more, and I will carry on looking for more great NA  novels.

Rating: 4 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: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins (Sweet Evil #1)

Review: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins (Sweet Evil #1)Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins
Series: Sweet Evil #1
Published by HarperCollins on May 1st 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 453
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
five-stars
Embrace the Forbidden

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.
Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She's aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn't until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He's the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

Sweet Evil is such a brilliant YA Paranormal, I feel so refreshed, because sometimes it can be really hard to sieve through the most awful crap in this genre. Although I’ve read a lot of great YA Paranormal books, this one was different, but also incredibly the same. It had the innocent girl who was ignorant about the para world and the inevitable bad boy. But these are used for good reason: the innocence gave Anna time to grow, and the bad boy appealed to me in every way. That’s not to say Kaidan didn’t frustrate me–he seriously did.

The book is set around a really interesting premise about Demons and Angels, where good, Christian Anna is half-Angel and half-Demon. This makes Anna’s character more interesting because she has to deal with things she’s never even dreamed of. Kaidan and Anna are Nephilim–children of Demons. They have to work to corrupt society and humanity, which is pretty soul-destroying. I thought this was so inventive and unique, I’ve never read this kind of premise and it intrigued me all the way through the book. Anna has never gotten drunk or been high, and suddenly these substances are calling to her and she’s expected to use them. Otherwise she will be killed.

Kaidan is such an awesome bad boy, and even though it annoyed me how caught up Anna was with him–I still really loved his character. He drew me in even though he was frustrating. He’s also part of a band and plays the drums…so, yeah. There was a lot of mixed messages and hot and cold about him. There’s attraction between Anna and Kaidan, but they can never be together because their life is dedicated to working.

I enjoyed the way Anna begins to discover who she really is, and her relationship with Patti. They both loved each other so much, a love that I can identify with but don’t see it often in books, for some reason. The parents are always unreasonable or sometimes simply dead, but Patti’s character really warmed my heart and I could feel her love toward Anna through the pages.

Rating: 5 Stars–the premise was so unique and interesting, I began to get invested in all the characters and I’m really desperate to read the next book! (Edit: I read the next book and it’s just as amazing!)

five-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

WhereSheWent (1)2

Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Review: Where She Went by Gayle FormanWhere She Went by Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #2
Published by Definitions, Random House on April 5th 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 208
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
five-stars
It's been three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life.

And three years he's spent wondering why.

When their paths cross again in New York City, Adam and Mia are brought back together for one life-changing night.

Adam finally has the opportunity to ask Mia the questions that have been haunting him. But will a few hours in this magical city be enough to lay their past to rest, for good - or can you really have a second chance at first love?

Where She Went is a powerful Contemporary Romance, and it worked so well because it’s the sequel to If I Stay. In If I Stay, Mia’s entire family are killed in a car crash and she is left in a coma. Mia has an out-of-body experience where she sees everything happening in the hospital around her. This is where I grew to adore Mia and her family, and her relationship with Adam. Therefore, it was a complete and utter devastating surprise when I saw in the blurb of the sequel, that the couple had broken up.

Where She Went wouldn’t have been so compelling if I hadn’t known these characters before and deeply cared about them from the beginning. Except, this book explores a fresh concept. Instead of seeing the world and events through Mia’s eyes, the entire book was in Adam’s perspective, not something I was gung-ho about until I read it, and realised how funny and realistic Adam’s character really is.

Like every other person reading the book, I was rooting for the two to patch up their troubles and get on with life. However, matters were not as simple as that. After the accident, Mia of course has been emotionally scarred, and Adam had some input into that. Forman slowly reveals what happened between the two after the accident and how they both (but especially Mia) held a turmoil of emotion surrounding the accident against each other. Pent-up feelings like resentment, blame, fear–all the nitty-gritty stuff–and let me tell you, Forman was not afraid with a little build-up and then confrontation–something that I loved.

I always loved Adam, and even though he’s more troubled and lonely in this book, I felt closer to him. I related to him, and his character was so complex as Forman peeled back the layers one by one. Mia is more distant, but she expresses her emotions and her fury at Adam, and the accident. Even though I wasn’t inside her head, I didn’t need to be.

If I Stay could have been left a stand-alone and I’m sure people choose not to read the sequel. In fact, I walked around for a couple of days before realising there even was a sequel, just assuming Mia and Adam were living happily-ever-after. However, I’m incredibly glad Forman decided to write a follow-up, because it gave the characters more authenticity and rawness that I have honestly never read before. I clearly need to read more of this type of book because I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I urge you to go away and read If I Stay and then embark on Where She Went. It’s perfect for Contemporary Romance lovers who don’t mind getting into gritty and realistic (but incredibly loveable) characters and emotional scenes.

5 Stars–I loved it because it’s incredibly character based and even though the plot was interesting, I was compelled by the depth of characters.

five-stars

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Review: Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Lux #4)

Review: Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Lux #4)Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Lux #4
Published by Entangled Teen on August 27th 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 374
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
four-half-stars
Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on?

And will they even be together?

Well, well, well, this series has certainly picked up the pace. As much as I love the Lux series, I always treat it as a bit of a fun and flirty read with some hot aliens. Even after numerous cliff-hangers, where I’m desperate to read the next book, I still felt this way. I could see the cliff-hanger in Opal coming a mile away and while I was impressed, I wasn’t at all surprised. However Origin felt like a completely different book to me, whereas the other books I’ve not written a review for because I feel they merge together slightly.

I have to admit, I liked the arguments in Obsidian between Katy and Daemon, with the witty back and forth but the undeniable attraction. When Katy and Daemon finally got together as a couple, I was happy, but thought some of the romance felt a bit boring at times. I don’t know if it was the complete change of setting or something else, but the romance felt alive and the chemistry was there once again. The setting change was really interesting, because we’ve been in this small town for all three books now, and it felt really good to see what the actual alien world is like, and how our main protagonist would deal with this world. As soon as I was relaxing into the story, Armentrout brought something completely new to the table and captivated me further. This new plot twist is exciting and could literally go anywhere. It kept me on my toes and makes me so excited to see how this is going to end!

Despite the ending of Opal indicating otherwise, we see our most loved characters and their interactions. I was a little worried we wouldn’t see the usual gang that we’ve come to love, what with the new setting, however this was not the case. Armentrout carefully crafted new settings and new characters, but kept our old and most loved characters in for some familiarity.

Of course, there is a huge cliff-hanger, because Armentrout seems to love this plot device. Everything is going to plan and then shit stuff goes down. Seriously, it’s a pretty huge cliff-hanger and one I loved, because it was certainly not something I was expecting.

Rating 4.5 Stars–I really recommend this series as always, but especially this one. Armentrout has really surprised me in such an amazing way and I’m in love with this series more than ever. Once again, I was taken on a whirlwind of intrigue, humour and also morbid realisation about the aliens and the world Armentrout has created. I cannot wait for the next instalment where everyone will finally get some closure!

four-half-stars

LOSING-IT-COVER-WORK

Review: Losing it by Cora Carmack

Review: Losing it by Cora CarmackLosing it by Cora Carmack
Published by Ebury Press on 12th October 2012
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 204
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
four-stars
Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, Bliss Edwards decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible - a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. And as if that weren't embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theatre professor. She'd left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.
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Losing it was one of my first New Adult reads and it didn’t disappoint. Don’t let the weirdo cover put you off, because it’s a cute book. I was really in the mood for something light and fluffy, and this delivered. The premise was fun: Bliss Edwards is  virgin and sets out to lose her virginity in a one-night stand. That one night stand plan ends with a gorgeous naked man in Bliss’ bed, and her running out claiming she needs to pick up her cat from the vet. Then, the following Monday, she recognizes her new college professor is said gorgeous naked man.

I really enjoyed reading this. I was slightly wary about the premise of someone losing their virginity after reading Popping the Cherry by Aurelia Bowl. I felt the execution wasn’t very good in that one. However, Losing it was handled really tastefully and in a fun way. I read it just before my mocks as well, so it put me in a happy mood. It’s the kind of book that leaves you feeling satisfied and like you’ve eaten a really delicious, fulfilling meal!

I liked the setting in college. I’ve heard about New Adult bridging the gap between YA and Adult Romance, but it’s incredibly interesting to see how each genre is actually considerably different. Despite people claiming all three are the same thing, it’s not true. Bliss was a likeable, realistic adult who was a really funny character to follow. Garrick was awesome. Together they made a cute pair and I liked the way they interacted.

Cora Carmack is quite known for her success in indie publishing. Losing it was Carmack’s debut novel published in December 2012. She published it herself with no help in marketing and so on. However, she still managed to get #36 in Kindle Contemporary Romance and other notable successes. This is pretty amazing for someone simply publishing through Amazon with no paper copies or anything. Good for you Carmack! I’ve added Carmack to my metal list of authors to look out for, and will be exploring more New Adult–namely J Lynn aka Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Rating: 4 stars!

four-stars

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Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #2)

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #2)Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's on August 27th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 420
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
five-stars
After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

Usually, if I enjoy the first in a series, the second one can be all kinds of disappointment, but not Crown of Midnight. This book is filled with moments of gripping excitement, an intriguing plot and complex characters you want to be best friends with. Seriously, Dorian and I could talk about books all day long.

I started Crown of Midnight when I was in a reading slump. I got a third of the way through and I was not in the mood at all, so I stopped reading it. I didn’t want to trust my judgment quite yet, because I wasn’t at a reliable time to review it or even rate it. I’m so glad I didn’t continue reading it otherwise the experience would have been thoroughly ruined. As I picked it up for the second time, I was reminded how awesome this series is and thrown into a world of intrigue and so many different delicious plots.

I adore the complexity of the novel, it has so many aspects to it, and there are many things going on. Not only that, but the characters also have issues individually, and it is not a case of the entire world revolving around our main heroine. Although Celaena is pretty dang awesome. She is undoubtedly a Hardcore Heroine, fighting for her life, her beliefs and her friends. I am in Celaena’s corner, cheering her on!

I have to say though, she is the most peculiar blend of infuriating, amazing and strong heroine I have ever read. On one page I understand her completely, on another I don’t understand her at all. She’s freshly unpredictable and keeps me on my toes whilst reading; because when I read these, my eyes glued in captivation and braced for Maas to break my heart. Needless to say she does at the end. I was left staring at the page in awe and a slight feeling of betrayal. WHY? Why do this to me Maas? I thought we had a deal that you wouldn’t hurt me like this. I guess some authors like to cause their readers pain.

Celaena’s quite different in Crown of Midnight, because we see her darker side in a lot more depth. I was beginning to think that perhaps Celaena wasn’t believably as an assassin, because despite her badarse tendencies, she well, didn’t assassinate anyone. In fact, she downright refused! I’m not saying I want all my heroine’s to be killing everyone, but the entire series is set upon this fact. Anyway, it worked itself out quite well.

There’s also a bit of romance and I love romance, so I was a major fan of this development. Overall, Crown of Midnight is an amazing read and one of my favourites of this year. I truly loved it and I can’t wait until the next one releases!

Rating: 5 Stars!!

five-stars

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Review: Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky #2)

Review: Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky #2)Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky #2
Published by Atom on January 8th 2013
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 341
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
five-stars
It's been months since Aria learned of her mother's death. 

Months since Perry became Blood Lord of the Tides, and months since Aria last saw him.

Now Aria and Perry are about to be reunited. It's a moment they've been longing for with countless expectations. And it's a moment that lives up to all of them. At least, at first.

Then it slips away. The Tides don't take kindly to former Dwellers like Aria. And the tribe is swirling out of Perry's control. With the Aether storms worsening every day, the only remaining hope for peace and safety is the Still Blue. But does this haven truly exist?

Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night?

In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and sci-fi elements to create a captivating adventure-and a love story as perilous as it is unforgettable.(

I loved Through the Ever Night so much, I felt like everything was ratcheted up a notch and the stakes were higher. Even though I adored Under the Never Sky, it’s no secret that I found the beginning confusing, but enjoyed it when it picked up. However Through the Ever Night was a fantastic read all the way through, and one of my favourites of the year. I’m incredibly invested in the main characters, and there are some great minor characters. It annoys me when the world I’m reading revolves around the main characters, and the more minor characters aren’t explored. Through the Ever Night was not like that, a lot of the characters had many layers. Not only that but it has an extensive world, and a thrilling plot. It’s the kind of book that will lure you in and not allow you to process the outer world until you are finished.

Aria has developed so much, and she’s learnt a lot since the last book. She’s adapted to the world really well–she doesn’t whine, and she’s not annoying. She’s a fighter, and I love her for it. I think the dual POV between her and Perry is brilliant, because Peregrine’s POV is so interesting and I adore Aria and Perry’s Romance. Both of them have separate things to deal with, which keeps things fresh and interesting, and means we aren’t following the same boring problems.

As Peregrine introduces Aria to his tribe, his people are wary of a person from the Realms. Peregrine faces a lot of trouble because he’s young and inexperienced–soon the tribe are finding it hard to eat because of the Aether storms. In addition, Talon is still being kept by the Dweller’s and Perry is faced with the awful decision of choosing between the ones he loves and his entire tribe who are relying on him. Perry is so awesome. Together, him and Aria make such an amazing team, with inevitable bumps along the road in their relationship.

Roar is also present and I love him so much! Not only is he hilarious, but it’s great to see a male character who’s friends with the main heroine and isn’t pitifully in love with her. Roar has his own problems, and I wish Rossi would write an entire book about him and Liv. I know there’s a novella (and I can’t wait to read it) but an entire novel would be so much better! I just wish Rossi would gather all of the minor characters and write separate stories about them! When that happens, I know the book must be good.

Rossi has made me love Sci-Fi,  I love this world and I love the characters. Rossi has carried on this captivating world admirably, and I am clutching my keyboard counting down the days until the conclusion to this series releases. If you haven’t read this series, start at Under the Never Sky– the series is so gashdang awesome and a must-read.

Rating: 5 Stars

five-stars

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Review: Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost (Night Prince #2)

Review: Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost (Night Prince #2)Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Prince #2
Published by Avon on 26th March 2013
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 326
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Leila's psychic abilities have been failing her, and now she isn't sure what the future holds. If that weren't enough, her lover, Vlad, has been acting distant. Though Leila is a mere mortal, she's also a modern woman who refuses to accept the cold shoulder treatment forever–especially from the darkly handsome vampire who still won't admit that he loves her.

Like choosing between eternal love and a loveless eternity...

Soon circumstances send Leila back to the carnival circuit, where tragedy strikes. And when she finds herself in the crosshairs of a killer who may be closer than she realizes, Leila must decide who to trust– the fiery vampire who arouses her passions like no other or the tortured knight who longs to be more than a friend? With danger stalking her every step of the way, all it takes is one wrong move to damn her for eternity.
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YAY! Love this series! I was a little apprehensive about reading a spin-off with Vlad, and although I really enjoyed Once Burned, Twice Tempted was that much more enjoyable for me.

I love character development and Frost writes it incredibly well. Both Leila and Vlad grew as a couple and did what they needed to make the relationship work. Like adults. Which is why I adore their relationship so much. Vlad isn’t used to having someone so close to him, and although he has had lovers, he’s not been in an equal partnership in a long time. Not just because Vlad is a commitment-phobe either. Rather, because the one woman he did love killed herself, because she was so afraid of him. You can see why Vlad is a little reluctant to fall in love after that, so he simply refuses. I love Vlad’s character so much more now, before he was mysterious (and he still is), but his character has been given much more depth and reason for his actions. I really fell in love with him in this one.

That’s not to say Vlad wasn’t infuriating at times, because he seriously is. However, it worked because Vlad never changed who he was completely. He’s still brutal Vlad, and although he bends much more than he has before, for Leila. He doesn’t change. I find in some relationships in these books, the ruthless Vampire falls in love with the woman and becomes a bit soppy. Which I find unrealistic, because it’s almost like their entire character changes.

Leila also has character development, and together, you have two evolving characters that don’t annoy you. Leila is hilarious at times, her sarcastic inner-commentary and witty remarks are exactly what I look for in a character. She’s someone people underestimate, with an awesome power of electricity and ability to read emotional imprints on people. Frost has given her truly compelling and intriguing powers. Leila is the kind of character you

I really adore this world, the characters and the world-building. There is a fair bit of romance, but it doesn’t dominate the book, and it was just the right amount for me. I’m very sad that there’s only going to be one more book, however, at least this series will end strongly and is unlikely to fizz out. Twice Tempted is not a book to miss, and is the kind of book where two hours will go by and the pages are flipping themselves, because you are so into the story and characters. Frost has done an excellent job with this world and I highly recommend it if you enjoy Paranormal Romance, because, trust me, it’s the good stuff.

four-half-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: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky #1)

Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky #1)Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky #1
Published by Atom on January 3rd 2012
Genres: Dystopia, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 374
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
three-half-stars
WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.

DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.

Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

Under the Never Sky took a while to draw me in, the entire premise was quite complicated and not very well explained. It jumped right in with bewildering lingo like ‘Realms’  which left me confused. Some of the world intricacies were never explained and I have no idea how the Earth got into this weird Sci-Fi situation or if it’s a different dimension entirely. However, despite this initial bump, at about page 130, Under the Never Sky got good.  Really good.

I loved the idea of having ‘Realms’. They are virtual worlds that humans live in and you can change to different Realms with a single thought. For example, you can go to a Forest Realm for lunch and then a Beach Realm in the blink of an eye. Everything is virtual, so the experience is not quite the same as real life, but the people who live there try and make everything appear, feel and taste as life-like as possible. Our main protagonist, Aria, is from the Realms and soon finds that the Realms have done no justice to real life. It was amusing to read about her reactions to things very common to us, like fires, which mystified her. Also, she kept collecting rocks, because they’re unique shapes and sizes on earth, whereas in the Realms they are formulated and often boring and the same.

Meanwhile on Earth, humans live in Tribes, with a leader called a Blood Lord. Humans have been set back a hundred or so years. They are living in stone huts and finding it hard to survive with enough food through the winter. Peregrine is our main hero, and when his nephew goes missing, Peregrine sets off to save him. Then Aria gets thrown out of the Realms, and her and Peregrine strike a deal to help each other.

Under the Never Sky is told in dual points of view, following both Perry and Aria, it was enjoyable to read about both of their lives and the contrast of how they live and their thoughts about each other. To begin with, they share an animosity towards each other because Aria thinks Perry’s a savage, and Perry thinks Aria’s a spoilt brat. Both of those opinions hold some truth. But of course their relationship continues to develop and drama ensues.

It’s a mix or science fiction and Dystopia, which was interesting to read. I really enjoyed this book, although I don’t think it was initially explained in the best way, I was still very taken by the writing and the unique premise. I highly recommend this series, and urge you to get past the fairly boring and slightly confusing first 100 pages, because the next 250 are a real gem.

Rating: 3.5 Stars, but only because of the beginning, otherwise I seriously loved it and I will definitely be carrying on with the series.

three-half-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

five-stars

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Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall by Susan Ee
Series: Penryn and the End of Days #1
Published by Hodder and Stoughton on May 23rd 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
three-half-stars

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

I’m not keen on Angels novels, I don’t know why but every Angel book I’ve read leaves something to be desired–I’m looking at you Hush Hush and Fallen. The premise to Angelfall was unusual, because Angels caused the post-apocalyptic world and are evil. I got a little freaked out by how awful Angels were in this book!
It is quite uncommon that I love the heroine and get a little annoyed with the love-interest. However, I found Raffe was luke-warm and then cold towards Penryn. Presumably so he didn’t develop feelings for her and to ‘protect’ her, but honestly, it became annoying. However, I loved Penryn’s independence because she’d learnt martial arts and could protect herself, despite being a little lost.
There are many cliché’s that pulled this novel down for me in rating, most of them involving Raffe. Angelfall isn’t entirely to blame however, it’s also the other Young Adult books churning out the same clichéd stories that are wearing me down.
An example of a cliché was that Raffe was described as ‘Adonis like’ and Penryn was ‘boring looking’. I find this is the case with a lot of Young Adult novels, with the stunningly attractive male falling in love with the average-looking female. I like reading about confident girls, and I don’t need the guys to be God-like in appearance to keep me interested.

Me: “What? This guy doesn’t look like a Greek God?” *shuts book* “Nope, not good enough.”

Raffe was sometimes unreasonably rude to Penryn and I felt like she was too kind towards him and it would’ve made things more interesting if she’d defended herself more.
I empathised with Raffe and his situation, considering a part of him had literally been ripped away from him. I did like Raffe, and in some scenes of the book, my heart melted a little. However, he brings up quite a few of my annoyances and pet-peeves, that I could not ignore.
Penryn was on a mission; her wheelchair-bound sister had gotten kidnapped and Penryn has to save her from evil Angels who’d taken over the world. Oh, and she’s also got a crazy mother who likes talking to demons and showing up at the most inappropriate times. Penryn was fantastic, I really understood her–she was a normal teenager who didn’t entirely know what she was doing, but wasn’t completely helpless. She had a mission and no one was going to stop her, I admired her determination.
Towards the end climax, I was completely shocked and the plot really thickens from there till the end. It was a very open ending, because I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next installment, but it stopped on a satisfying, positive note. I’m interested to see where this story-line goes, especially for Penryn’s sake.
I didn’t love, love Angelfall, but I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it.
This book gave me tons to think about, there were a lot of things that did not cater to my personal preferences, yet I still managed to enjoy it, which says something!

I’m wavering, but I’m going to go with 3.5 Stars. Recommended if you like Angels, and hot n’ cold relationships.
If anyone has a recommendation for a good Angel book, let me know. I’ve tried Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and Fallen by Lauren Kate. I didn’t like them.

three-half-stars

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Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices #1/3)

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices #1/3)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Infernal Devices #1
Published by Walker on 3rd March 2011
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 496
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
four-stars
In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them....
Buy the Book from Amazon UKBuy the Book from Amazon USABuy the Book from The Book Depository
  • Cassandra Clare is extremely popular for her other series, The Mortal Instruments, especially with the film coming out in 4 DAYS GUYS. Anyway, The Infernal Devices is set in the same world, but a couple of centuries before, and instead of New York, it’s set in London.

Clockwork Angel was highly enjoyable, the world was extensive, the characters were funny and complex. I’m absolutely delighted I have another two books to also read. Although these books are huge and I’m a slow reader, I manage to fly through all of Cassandra Clare’s novels, and this was no exception.

Tessa begins not knowing a thing about the Shadowhunter world, and so things are discovered new from her perspective. Which was interesting for me, because I’d already experienced it in the modern world with Clary. For those of you who haven’t read The Mortal Instruments (and you really should) you can definitely pick this one up and not get confused. There are certain references that will not be understood, but they will likely go right over your head and you won’t notice them.

“Sometimes, when I have to do something I don’t want to do, I pretend I’m a character from a book. It’s easier to know what they would do.” 

Oh how I hate love triangles, and Clare seems very fond of them, which proves inconvenient. Here we have the choice of either Jem or Will. Jem is the safe, intelligent, kind-hearted and genuinely nice person. Will is witty, mean and a badboy. It’s not hard to imagine who the most popular is (Will), everyone loves a badboy.

Seeing the Shadowhunter world in a different time was fascinating, and immortal characters like Magnus and Camille  were also in Clockwork Angel, as well as City of Bones. I adore Magnus, and although Camille is a not a villain, nor a ally in The Mortal Instruments, I loved her character in this series. Magnus and her have a complexity and past that is so slowly revealed, I’m left desperate for more.

The plot is gripping, and something completely unexpected to me, because we’ve not seen these kind of ‘creature things’ before and I loved the fresh take. It was like the Shadowhunter world equivalent of zombies/robots. I’m so excited to read the next instalment when I have time.

I really enjoy Clare’s sarcastic, witty humour, and the Shadowhunter world, overall I give this a 4 star rating, and I expect it’s going to get eeeven better.

four-stars

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Review: Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Covenant #1)

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Covenant #1
Published by Spencer Hill Press on 15 December 2011
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 281
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
three-stars

GoodreadsAmazon UK

I honestly don’t know how to start this review. I am a die-hard Vampire Academy fan, always have been since the moment I read it. Therefore, reading Half-Blood makes me a touch defensive, why you ask? Because it’s exactly the same.

Okay that’s a lie, it’s not. But it’s pretty damn close. Instead of the premise of Moroi and Strigoi, it’s about God’s. It’s like all the major events in one series of Vampire Academy, condensed into one book. If you like Vampire Academy, you’ll most definitely like this, I did. But I couldn’t shake the feeling as I read it that it was copied. Then I found my mind wondering into how far this is on the edge of copyright. I chose to read this book because I love Jennifer L. Armentrout’s other series, I obviously still do. However, I’m not too happy about this book.

I started reading it knowing it was going to be alike, as I heard from word of mouth and other reviews. I really liked Alex and her kickass nature, but I don’t think she even matched up to Rose. She didn’t have the right feistiness for me. Rose is irresponsible for the first half, jumping into things, but she makes a conscious decision to stop, and she mostly does. I felt like Alex made the decision, yet didn’t carry through with it. Aiden and Seth are both sexy, funny characters. But they don’t match up to Dimitri and Adrian, at all.

By copying a lot of details from VA, she’s made me compare the two, which wasn’t something I was comfortable with. This is because I’m extremely biased towards VA. Having said that, there is no doubt VA is better, despite my biased position.

The plot did have the elements I love: just the right amount of romance, not too much, not too little. It also had a strong, intriguing heroine, and other fun characters. Aiden was mysterious and a bit broken—not that he would ever admit it. The plot was about God’s, they don’t play much of a part in this one, but I’m sure their part will grow in the next couple of books. There was also another magical element thrown in, which I really liked, which considered Seth and Alex. I really want to know how this pans out.

I will be reading the next book, because I’ve heard how the series completely changes and diverts from VA, which I’ll be pleased to see considering that I enjoyed the potential so much.

Rating: 3 Stars: Overall, interesting, funny characters, and an entertaining plot, unfortunately, it was too much like Vampire Academy for me to love it completely.

three-stars

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Review: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse #13)

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #13
Published by Gollancz on 7th May 2013
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
three-stars

There are secrets in the town of Bon Temps, ones that threaten those closest to Sookie—and could destroy her heart….

Sookie Stackhouse  finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.
But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…

A lot of people did not enjoy the conclusion to the Sookie Stackhouse series, some people hated who Sookie ended up with or the book altogether. I thought Harris did a good job at concluding a lot of loose ends with the minor and important characters, as most of the characters were given a cameo in the book. However, all of the cameo’s seemed quite forced and random, I think Charlaine could have done that with more finesse. Considering how many characters there are in this series, not every character was highlighted, but she didn’t miss out anyone important to me.

Now let’s get down to what everyone has been kicking up a fuss about. Who Sookie ends up with. For those of you who don’t know, Sookie Stackhouse is known for her many love interests, but has kept Eric for some time. I’m not going to spoil it, but I was extremely happy with who she ended up with– just not how Charlaine Harris executed it. I don’t know why she took so long to write Sookie’s romantic happy ending, and it almost felt like a frantic pick of a random character, and that she didn’t even know until this book, who it would be. I would rather have had a slower build-up of the relationship over time in a couple of books, than what felt like a rushed ending in one.

I did enjoy it though, but it wasn’t the best in the series, and even though there was a happy ending, I felt it was quite melancholic for some reason. After all that Sookie went through in the series, I wanted a proper walk-into-the-sunset ending, which wasn’t there for me.

The plot was interesting, it got to a point where I didn’t want to put it down because I was intrigued, however not because I was gripped. I’m fully invested in the characters after reading about them for so many books, and that’s what makes this series so enjoyable. Nevertheless, once again the plot revolves around Sookie. It’s all about people wanting to wrong her and destroy her–as it always is–which I find rather tiresome.

I enjoyed it a lot more than other people seemed to, but the ending felt rushed and I wasn’t so keen on the plotline. Once again, the characters are what kept me entertained.

Rating: God knows. 3 Stars.

three-stars

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Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (The Fifth Wave #1)

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
Series: The Fifth Wave #1
Published by Penguin on 7th May 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
four-half-stars

The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Goodreads link

 

I don’t even know where to start on this review. The 5th Wave is an absolute gem and if you haven’t picked it up yet, I seriously suggest you go and do so right now.

The Earth sees an alien mothership and we try to contact them, but they don’t answer. Then, after ten days of silence, the first wave begins. The Others send out an electromagnetic pulse which takes out all forms of electricity, power, and kills half a million people. The second wave is a tsunami that kills everyone within sixty miles of a coastline, which is three billion people. The third wave is in the form of a plague which had a 97% mortality rate and took out more than 3.5 billion people.

‘Sometimes I think I might be the last human on earth’

Seventeen-year-old Cassie—for Cassiopeia–is alone in the world, camping in the woods while she tries to stay alive and away from the Others. She has a backpack of essentials including a teddybear, a tent and her gun.

‘The first rule of surviving the 4th Wave is don’t trust anyone’

Cassie is such a kick-ass character, she knows that she has to stay alone to survive and she does. Until she meets Evan Walker. It’s the only person she’s talked to in months and she can’t help but enjoy the human contact. Cassie is brave and fights for her right to stay on Earth which I loved. She was so strong and she’s only sixteen. She does what she has to do to survive and she keeps her promises, it was a delight to read from her perspective, despite the fact that she is written by a man.

Cassie’s not the only POV though, we also have a few others, who I will not name for fear of spoiling you all. I actually enjoyed their POV just as much as Cassie’s, and loved that all of their storylines were relevant and interlocked at various points in the book.

Young Adult Dystopian is a genre that’s increasingly growing, especially after the release of The Hunger Games. I even hesitate to say it’s the ‘Next Big Thing’ in terms of Young Adult and ‘mainstream’ books. It’s not surprising then, that this book is all over the blogosphere with people exclaiming how much they enjoyed it. I enjoyed it too. I’m starting to read more Dystopian’s and The Fifth Wave was something that was incredibly satisfying and different to read. The premise was different, the characters I felt were realistic. They all had their lives before the invasion and Yancey wrote flash-backs which made them more relatable.

I found the plot twists to be captivating, I thought I knew what was going on and then Yancey would flip the story upside-down and change my perspective. He was really good at making me doubt myself and sometimes even deliberately confused for me to make me think certain things about the situations and the characters.

Overall, a really enjoyable Dystopian read. If you’re looking for something to read in the Dystopian genre, I suggest you take a look, because I thought it was fantastic. Then I realised the second one comes out in Summer! Next year.

I’m hoping to see Rick Yancey in London soon, but he hasn’t posted where he’s going to do the signing!

Rating: 4.5 Stars

four-half-stars

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Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson #7)

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #7
Published by Orbit on March 5th 2013
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
five-stars

 Mercy Thompson returns in the seventh novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

Mercy Thompson’s life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman—the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack—has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy’s life. But on the edges of humanity, what passes for a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more…

After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam—or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They’ve all been abducted.

Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related—and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

It’s widely known that authors don’t choose their covers, but I think Patricia Briggs has gotten very lucky with hers! I love how they’re drawn, and the books have also been adapted into graphic novels which also make her look badass. I think they’re slightly sex-kittenish but I certainly wish I could draw like that, and would choose this cover over the alternative cover any day.

Considering this is book number seven, it’s safe to say I’m attached to all the characters in the Mercy Thompson series, and always watch for the next release. Frost Burned was no disappointment, and all the old characters that I love were involved, which you didn’t get so much in River Marked because Mercy and Adam were on their honeymoon—I still did love that book though. We get Zee, Tad, Marsilia, Stefan, all of the pack and even a guest from the Alpha and Omega series which was a pleasant surprise.

This book is fast-paced and complicated, pulling together both an intricate plot and elaborate characters. Frost Burned jumped right in with action around the second chapter when Adam and the rest of the pack are abducted. This is caused by werewolf politics, because the werewolves have released their existence to the world.

Do not think that because Adam is abducted, you won’t see much of him, because there are two awesome chapter in his point of view, which I just lapped up.  We see how Adam views Mercy, the pack bond and how his inner wolf contrasts to Mercy’s inner coyote.

Mercy is such an enjoyable character to read, she’s strong, she has back-story and an intriguing relationship with Coyote. When she’s not fighting for her life, she’s baffled by her pack bond, and saving those she loves. Her voice is really enjoyable to read and every time I hear about a new Mercy Thompson release I jump to buy it–or rather my mum does!

The world Briggs creates is so vivid and complex, with werewolf politics, Fae and Vampires, all weaved into one magnificent plot. One chapter the characters interact with the Fae, the next with Vampire, I didn’t get bored once.

If you haven’t venture into this adult Urban Fantasy world yet, and are looking for something new, I highly recommend this complex, interesting series.

Rating: A

 

[button link="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13413589-frost-burned"] Frost Burned on Goodreads[/button]

five-stars

city of ashes

Review: City Of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments #2)

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments
Published by Walker on 7th July 2008
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
four-stars

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.
To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?
In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City’s Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation
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*WARNING* Do not read, if you haven’t read City of Bones! There are no spoilers for City of Ashes, but there are from City of Bones. *WARNING*

Did you think it was strange that Clary’s brother was called handsome in the blurb, yet Simon was barely mentioned? Well that’s because Jace and Clary were attracted to each other in City Of Bones and then they found out they were related to the same evil Valentine. I’m a little surprised to see the turn this series has taken and I think Clare has taken forbidden love too far. I don’t understand why she thought this would be a good idea, because frankly it just annoys me. ‘Angsty’ looks across the room, because they can never be together, but they can’t help their feelings. No. Sick of this storyline, if it was anything but being related, I’d love it. The chemistry between Jace and Clary is palpable, and I have really grown to like both characters. Forbidden love is awesome, but not this.  And it’s also a bit irritating because you have this great book about gay warlocks and faeries and then…some weird romance thing that is out of place.

I actually still enjoyed this book, although the romance was getting silly. Magnus, Luke, Simon and Maia are all minor characters but I love them all. Magnus with his flamboyant but powerful attitude is incredibly entertaining, his and Alec’s relationship is something I wish was explored more. Alec and Magnus are both attracted to each other but Alec doesn’t want anyone to know he’s gay. I really enjoy this storyline and wish Cassandra Clare would focus on them more. All we get are little snippets and I love their relationship!

I’m glad Jace has an inner conflict with Valentine, because it would be unrealistic if Jace wasn’t confused about his relationship with his evil father who brought him up until he was eleven. I like to read about his vulnerability, I’m glad he’s not the perfect guy, his complexities make him more interesting.

The love triangle has a weird dynamic here, but I don’t want to ruin anything about that, and Simon is as awesome as ever, his character is a favourite of mine in this series. His geeky one-liners are present throughout.

I found City of Ashes surprisingly gripping through most of it, but towards the climax- the area where I’m supposed to be gripped the most- I mostly lost interest because one again, it’s them against Valentine and seemed very samey-samey.

World-building was once again extensive, and I enjoyed it, rating: 4 Stars

four-stars

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Review: The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #3)

The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #3
Published by Penguin, Razorbill on February 12th 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 401
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
five-stars

[button link="#http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8709526-the-indigo-spell"] Goodreads The Indigo Spell[/button]

In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch–a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood–or else she might be next.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, the Bloodlines series explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive—this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood.

As I said in The Golden Lily review I posted yesterday, I read these the day they were released but when re-reading them, wanted to share how much I love them.

After The Golden Lily, I was anticipating this release eight months later and boy…what a book it was. The Indigo Spell is filled with romance and sexual tension between Adrian and Sydney, and after what happened at the end of The Golden Lily, things were definitely going to be interesting. And they were. The whole gang at Amberwood- Jill, Eddie, Angeline- don’t get as much attention as they did in the previous books, although there are issues and storylines concerning them, the main focus is on Sydney, her Alchemist business and the romance between her and Adrian.

Sydney is an Alchemist, helping Moroi (Vampires) to cover up their existence to other humans because Alchemists believe they are evil monsters. She’s working at Amberwood  boarding school in Palm Springs to protect Moroi Jill and keep her in hiding. She previously feared the Moroi, but she’s finding herself growing away from those beliefs more than she ever thought was possible. Before, she’d freak out when a Moroi even tried doing magic, but as we saw in The Golden Lily, she actively joining in with magic. The Indigo Spell reinforces how harsh and controlling Alchemists are; they hate Moroi and think they’re unnatural, they’ll do whatever they can to stop themselves from working directly with them, lest they get tainted by the evil. Sydney was brought up with these beliefs, so of course they’re a little hard to shake. But the Alchemists are a web of lies, half of them keeping top-secret information from the other half of the organisation. Sydney soon realises, she’s not even sure what she believes anymore.

Things are sizzling between Sydney and Adrian sexual tension wise, but with Sydney refusing to go against her Alchemist beliefs, Adrian promises not to bring up his love confessions. Poor Adrian, he always seems to fall in love with complicated people. As much as Sydney refuses to acknowledge her feelings for Adrian, she still trusts him, and throughout The Indigo Spell, their relationship grows stronger. The romance is bumped up a notch compared to The Golden Lily, so watch out. Cute things, funny things, swoon worthy things, it’s all there! Adrian is as witty as ever, but even with his incessant jokes, he shows a lot of sweet emotion towards Sydney.

The Indigo Spell is also filled with funny elements, kooky characters and hilarious naming. Malachi Wolfe, which seems to be one of Richelle Mead’s favourite minor characters makes an appearance, sharing those far-fetched stories he loves to tell. I think he’s a hilarious character- he also has a Twitter account, follow @MalachiWolfe. Characters like Malachi are typical of Richelle’s writing style, which you might have guessed, I’m a fan of.

I’ve heard many people dissatisfied with Marcus Finch, a character Mead hyped up, but then confessed she changed things slightly for him– apparently he was meant to be another love interest for Sydney. I wasn’t particularly impressed by his character either, and he didn’t live up to expectations. He was completely different to how I thought he would be and I would have liked more to his character, however, I still really enjoyed The Indigo Spell.

Rating: 5 Stars

So, now another nine months to wait, as it’s been said The Fiery Heart ( Bloodlines four) will be released on November 19th.

I’m not sure I can take it.

five-stars

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Review: The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #2)

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #2
Published by Penguin, Razorbill on June 12th 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 418
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
four-stars

 

Golden Lily Golden LilyRichelle Mead; Penguin 2012WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

[button link="#http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8709523-the-golden-lily"] Goodreads The Golden Lily[/button]

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.


Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she’s supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she’s been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart?

 

 I actually read this on the day it came out, but I didn’t have a book blog then. Recently I was re-reading it and wanted to share it’s awesomeness.

Bloodlines was the first book in this series, and whilst it was a fantastic book, it was distinctly missing romance. That is certainly not the case in The Golden Lily, we meet a certain barista called Brayden, who is very intellectual like Sydney. This relationship dynamic was utterly hilarious, both of them were completely clueless when it came to social cues, especially in a romantic social clues.

“I was going to have to research kissing.”

It wasn’t just about Brayden and Sydney though, I can confirm there is also Adrian and Sydney scenes that made me catch my breath. Adrian is so witty, everything he says has me laughing and the way he interacts with Sydney is adorable. He’s gotten Keith’s apartment and is sorting his life out considerably,  growing as a character nicely.

The secondary characters such as Eddie, Jill, Angeline are still up to their usual shenanigans, with Sydney cleaning up their messes. Jill has come a long way from Bloodlines, she didn’t rely on Sydney with every little thing and I liked her a lot more than I previously did.

Sydney also has more interactions with Mrs Terwilliger, with her initial alchemist views on magic being challenged. Sydney isn’t as repulsed by Vampires as she once was, and she’s realised that they aren’t as evil as the Alchemists made her believe. That doesn’t mean that she’s going to show that to her supervisors anytime soon, but she treats the Vampires like actual people, not evil monsters. Sydney’s developing as a character, she’s taking action to protect herself and not rely on others. By no means is she Rose Hathaway, but she isn’t sitting around waiting to be saved by the Guardians. Many people say they can relate more to Sydney than Rose, because people don’t tend to be able to relate to Rose’s overall badass personality. However, Sydney’s badass too and is very intellectual with cute quirks which made me smile.

Another book by Richelle Mead that I loved, the storylines are quirky and funny, like the entire book doesn’t take itself too seriously, but with serious undertones. This is where Richelle lulls her fans into a false sense of security, I have no doubt she’ll rip our hearts out in the next couple of books.

Rating: 4 Stars

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3) review to come soon.

four-stars

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Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in our Stars by John Green
Published by Penguin on January 12 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
five-stars

The Fault in Our Stars The Fault in Our StarsJohn Green; Dutton Juvenile 2012WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder

Hardcover: 368 pages

Published: January 12th 2012

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

 

Hazel Grace was diagnosed with stage four thyroid cancer at the age of thirteen—there is no stage five. She immediately quit school and prepared for the worst, but with the help of a miracle drug, she’s been kept alive living with the unpredictable nature of cancer. At her cancer support group she meets Augustus, who is in remission, with the cancer already having taken one of his legs.

This book is incredibly emotional to read. I, like most people, have been deeply affected by cancer and found The Fault In Our Stars to be accurate and undeniably true. It’s not the typical cancer book—which I usually avoid like the plague—it’s witty, funny and gut-wrenching.

All of Green’s books are YA and he’s said in various interviews that writing adult fiction does not appeal to him at all, and he doesn’t ever want to write it. He worked as a student chaplain in a children’s hospital and that’s when he though of the idea for The Fault In Our Stars. This is probably why his characters are so bright and their situation thought-provoking, because John has met people in similar situations and didn’t under-estimate the teenager characters. For a man in his 40’s, he writes ‘teenager’s’ POV very well, as they’re not actually completely ‘normal’ teenagers, they’ve had to face a lot worse than most people face in a lifetime. Therefore, when people say the teenagers are not realistic enough, or are too insightful—of course Hazel and Augustus are not ‘normal’ teenagers, they undoubtedly have a different perspective on certain aspects in life.

I was completely out of my comfort zone by picking this book up, because when I read YA, it’s usually paranormal and I’m very selective about that. However, once I started reading it was very hard to stop, I’m a slow reader, and I read this in two sit-downs. I do not think it’s over-rated in the slightest, John Green’s writing is funny and astute. It expresses tragedy and humour at the same time without being disrespectful. John Green captivated me and made me contemplate certain matters and empathise with every single character.

Hazel was intelligent and fairly ordinary, which was what made her a realistic and likeable character, because it symbolises the fickle nature of life and the fact that cancer can affect anyone. Like most readers, she had a favourite book–An Imperial Affliction and this later became a large aspect in the book that helped her relationship with Augustus grow. Their relationship was authentic and nicely paced throughout, building on a series of events that made them become closer and understand themselves better, whilst at the same time trying to understand their views on life better.

This book made me cry and laugh-out-loud, it was a truly enjoyable read and I hope to devour more of John Green’s books in the future.

Rating: 5 Stars

five-stars

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Review: City Of Bones By Cassandra Clare ( The Mortal Instruments #1)

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments #1
Published by Walker on July 2nd 2007
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
four-stars

 

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing — not even a smear of blood — to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .
Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

Wow, the reviews concerning this book range from one star hate-hate-hate reviews to five star best-thing-I’ve-ever-read reviews. Personally, I liked it, the world building was so extensive and well written I couldn’t help but be sucked into this world, but there were character minor issues for me.

 

Clary is an ordinary 15-year-old girl, living in New York with her mum, Jocelyn, her father is dead and her Uncle Luke has been taking care of her for as long as she can remember. But soon she realises she doesn’t know them as well as she thought, and her ordinary family, aren’t so ordinary at all. One night she goes to a club with her best friend Simon and witnesses a murder that no one else saw. She meets a group of people called the Shadowhunters; they are demon hunters, and are curious to discover why Clary can see their world when no mundane should. She discovers she has the Sight and can witness the supernatural world, but she’s left wondering why. As her mother mysteriously goes missing through supernatural means, Clary turns to the Shadowhunters to figure things out and find her mother before it’s too late.

Cassandra Clare has set up an incredible world, filled with Warlocks, Vampires, Werewolves, Demons, I could go on. With world building came a huge information dump right at the beginning that was necessary, yet was not handled as well as it could have been. City of Bones was very thick to wade through, however once you get the lay of the land, there were many plot twists and turns,  and I didn’t get bored once.

The things I really enjoyed about the characters were that Cassandra chose various specific characters to focus on throughout the book. City of Bones doesn’t completely revolve around the heroine, we see other characters points of view, and instead of getting bored—which I frequently do in other points of view—I enjoyed reading about the characters. A lot of YA novels have the whole book solely on the heroine, which is quite unrealistic, and can make the world dull and one-dimensional.

Clary had a fiery element about her, but she also had a vulnerability because she was only just introduced to the Shadowhunters when she gets thrown into battles, and therefore can’t kill and didn’t have the fighting training they did. This grew weary because she couldn’t protect herself and didn’t contribute much to fights. But I can’t expect her to be a ninja right away, so I’ll let that go…other than that, I liked her point-of-view!

Simon was Clary’s geeky best friend and I though he was funny; engaging in witty banter with Jace and making Star Wars references made him entertaining. Also, I was picturing him as Robert Sheehan, who’s playing Simon in the film, which didn’t hurt. Jace was a jerk, yet that didn’t bother me much, because it was said many times that it was a facade, and although he had a haughty attitude and a big mouth, I always thought there was a complexity to him and a set of emotions no one sees upfront that he covers up. Unfortunately, I didn’t like Isabelle and Alec as much as I wanted to; Alec had his own issues and I liked that, Isabelle was ‘the beautiful one’ and seemed kind of badass when it came to fighting. But there was always an animosity they both shared towards Clary that I didn’t think was reasonable. It seemed only Jace was actually nice to her and he was meant to be the jerk, which was kind of cliché. There’s also a definite love triangle building here, which I’m not a huge fan of, regardless of the ending I believe this love-triangle is not going away. For me, this wasn’t particularly a love story but was more about world-building than the romance between characters.

Despite minor character issues, I still found this an enjoyable world to read and will be reading the next in the series.

Rating: 4 Stars

four-stars

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Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #1)

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #1
Published by Penguin, Razorbill on August 25th 2011
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
four-stars

 

Sydney protects vampire secrets – and human lives.

Sydney belongs to a secret group who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the world of humans and vampires.

But when Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, she fears she’s still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. What unfolds is far worse. The sister of Moroi queen Lissa Dragomir is in mortal danger, and goes into hiding. Now Sydney must act as her protector.

The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires. And now she has to live with one . . .

 

This is a great series for those that loved  Richelle Meads Vampire Academy  series and is pining for more. Bloodlines is set in the same world as Vampire Academy, with some of the same minor characters being brought to the fore-front. Mead purposefully left some loose strings at the end of the series to be explored and the consequences people would face for helping Rose in Last Sacrifice. Bloodlines can be read on it’s own, but I would recommend reading the Vampire Academy series first and then reading Bloodlines.

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, part of a large organisation that help Vampires cover up their existence to protect humans. They believe the Moroi (Vampires) and Dhampirs (half-Vampries) are evil and Sydney was taught from a young age to fear them and believes they are evil monsters.  Lately, she’s been in some trouble with her Alchemist superiors for helping those very same monsters, and thus, is on rocky ground with her job. The Alchemist’s send her undercover at a school in Palm Springs with Moroi Jill Mastrano in an attempt to save Jill’s life. All she has to do is protect Jill, but Sydney’s beliefs are ingrained, and she fears having to spend so much time with the unnatural beings that she has spent her life being taught to hate.

With Sydney are familiar friends: Eddie, Jill and of course Adrian.  I got completely emotionally invested in the characters, mentally cheering them, and hating others for defying them. Every character was complex and had a convincing motive for every action, all connecting in a web of plot lines. I really like Richelle Mead’s voice, in any of her books. Bloodlines drew me in with serious events one moment and then will flip on it’s side and have a humorous scene involving Adrian’s witty banter the next.

Ah, Adrian. Where do I begin? He’s had an unfortunate time with Rose and is now drowning his sorrows in booze, cigarettes and Moroi women. He was brought along in an attempt to give Jill a familiar face and because, let’s face it, he had nothing better to do. At first, he comes across as self-pitying and selfish, but he’s devil-may-care, he’s bad-boy and his witty quips are hilarious.

At the beginning, I was not completely sold on Sydney. I certainly am now. She was everything Rose wasn’t at the beginning, she’s mature, level-headed and over-thinks everything instead of rushing in situations without a moments thought. Sydney has her own issues with Vampires and their magic, she is conflicted between what her family and the Alchemists have brought her up thinking and what she’s seeing before her. She has father issues as well, with insecurities about her weight, as she compares  herself to the Vampires perfect shape, which was somewhat her fathers fault.

One of the reasons she is such a brainiac was because her father strictly homeschooled her and this meant that she had little normal social interaction. She was socially inept which was utterly hilarious, her cluelessness made her unaware of any simple social dynamics. Sydney also had a tendency to help and protect everyone and everything, which sometimes backfired on her. Nonetheless, she was an efficient, competent woman who stood up for herself when needed and did not cower. It was enjoyable to see such a strong, intelligent character that didn’t need brute force, but had brains. Rose and Sydney both are strong characters, and I liked the stark contrast between their personalities. Bloodlines proves to readers that mental strength is just as important as physical strength.

Both Sydney and Adrian have their issues, and I believe they’re perfect for each other. Their relationship is slowly starting to grow into friendship as they begin to trust each other. They do not jump in each other’s arms five minutes after meeting declaring their love, for which I’m extremely grateful.  I immensely enjoyed the slow build-up and found it more believable.

Mead has once again created a fantastic, funny and complex world, bring on The Golden Lily!

Rating: 4 Stars

four-stars