Monthly Archives: June 2013

How Beauty Met the Beast

How Beauty Met The Beast

How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren

Series: Tales of the Underlight

Genre: Urban-Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Adult

Publication: November 19th 2012 by Carina Press

The Plot

The Beast – Scarred. Damaged. Living with a terrible secret. Agent of the Underlight Wesley “Hauk” Haukon has nothing left but the fight for liberty against the oppressive Order of Ananke. He’s starting to lose hope…and then he sees her.

The Beauty – Despite her night job as a burlesque dancer, grad student Jolie Benoit has always played the mostly good girl. That all changes following a scorching sexual encounter with a stranger whose face she doesn’t see. After she’s kidnapped by thugs and rescued by a man with a very familiar voice, Jolie becomes a pawn in a struggle she never knew existed.

Hauk knows he cannot have her, and resolves to protect his heart and his secrets. But as they work together and grow closer, he finds new reason to keep fighting. Dare he risk hope in a new life, one where Jolie can see past his ravaged face and where their friendship can grow into something more?

My Review

How Beauty Met The Beast is a book I saw quite a while ago and dismissed it thinking it wasn’t for me. It is safe to say, I am so glad that I returned and picked it up. It may only be a short novella at around 100 and something pages, but every inch of it is action-packed and hooking. Urban-fantasy isn’t usually my primary reading material, but blending this in with a little bit of steampunk and teasing us with romance served to encapsulate my attention for the whole time. And it served to motivate me to read the second book straight after, a very rare occurrence for me, since I much prefer to procrastinate for months and forget the plot lines of previous books before returning to the series. Admittedly, the book isn’t perfect, but it’s enjoyable and entertaining.

I think one of my favourite aspects has to be the ‘Beast’ of the story or Hauk. He may be a man troubled, emotionally reserved and with low expectations of people but he doesn’t allow that to define and infiltrate his actions and morals. He might not be on the right side of the law, but there was definitely the feel of a good man. After his accident in the war, he has been left horrifically scarred and this definitely affects the way he views himself, but I enjoyed how he met ‘Beauty’ a.k.a Jolie and things changed. It wasn’t so blatantly obvious, but the subtly really worked into the storyline to not overpower the plotline.

The world was definitely one to be admired and the complexity of the underground movement, the Underlight and all the political conspiracy that surrounds this certainly entertained me. The aspects of steampunk enter in the Underlight which has removed itself from the world of technology and it moving away from the modern world that is full of corruption. It wasn’t entirely developed to tell every detail, but sufficient enough to gain a good idea and I enjoyed the concept. It definitely served to add excitement with the warning factions and the underground secrecy of everything.

“It’s like I went back in time,” she muttered in awe.
There wasn’t a single piece of plastic anywhere. No electronics, either. No computer. No phone. No television or radio. The desk held paper and a fountain pen. Candlelight gave the room a living glow. Damask browns and burnished hold made up the main palette, with hints of burnt orange and forest green filling the room with a masculine warmth.

Jolie was definitely a character I admired. Despite her bourgeois background, she didn’t allow this to define her or constrain her relationships with others like Hauk. She was down to earth and kind and caring. She also happened to be sassy, smart and brave. Without a doubt Jolie is a kick-ass heroine that runs into things with the best of intentions and usually succeeds because she does think too. I liked everything about Jolie and whilst at times she was a little obtuse, I think that was more a reflection of human nature than anything. Her choice of job is certainly interesting, but I don’t think the judgement should come on first impressions because there is a lot beneath the surface with Jolie.

“Oh. Weird. Well, I guess being a classy stripper is pretty different.”

One of my favourite characters had a very small part, but it was Jolie’s niece and her witty insight to situations certainly added to the humour of the book. It also rounded that novel that there was touches on humour throughout not just from Whitney but other characters too. It certainly showed that the secondary characters could also be fleshed out despite the short length of the novel and this served to impress me because I really felt that I had a handle on the other characters and their positions in the novel.

Whitney sighed. “I told you not to kiss him while he was asleep.”
Was she getting chastised by a twelve-year-old?
“I didn’t!”

Overall, How Beauty Met the Beast was enjoyable, action-packed and thrilling from start to finish. This is most definitely the start to a fantastic series that has some well-fleshed out characters and ideas that have me eager to read more. I definitely recommend this one without reserve!

~ 3.5 Books / 5 Books ~

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 3.5 Books, Adult, Carina Press, E-book, Jax Garren, Magic, Romance, Urban-Fantasy

Paramore

The Auditory and the Aesthetic

This week I’m taking a look at one of my all time favourite bands who first introduced me to the world of rock/indie and got me through my ‘strange’ days of emo-ness during school.

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So with the release of Paramore’s new album, entitled ‘Paramore’ we have seen a new age of Paramore and whilst I like it, I can safely say that this is the case where I’m missing the old feel of Paramore. Whilst I’m all for bands, diversifying and progressing, I feel like they’ve changed the foundations of Paramore that was more of a rock/indie emo-esque band that introduced me into the rock industry and now they’re bordering the the more mainstream pop rock. Don’t get me wrong, there are still elements of the rock group remaining, but not as much as the old albums.

Its safe to say the departure of brothers Josh and Zac has had an impact on the band, the intensity of the drums and lead guitar that gave a heavy, more rock sound to the music has long gone. Honestly I was pretty gutted when these two decided to leave because I felt that the band couldn’t be the same without them and so far, it’s not been quite the same. That doesn’t mean to say Paramore are bad like many fans have slated, but they are different.

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Meet the ‘new’ Paramore consisting of Hayley Williams, Jeremy Davis and Taylor York.

Paramore have taken on something more catchy and funky. They have a wide range of music in their new album from happy and fun to a little slower, and still a little bit of rock in there, but not enough to dominate the album or nearly enough to make it feel like ‘Paramore’.

It’s safe to say that Paramore even borders on a “country” element with ‘Interlude: Moving On’ which is short, but very different. However, I have to admit, Williams’ voice sounds really unique and funky. It adds a lot to the song with the focus on her voice and it was definitely a risk taker, but one that I think pays off.

Then ‘Ain’t it Fun’ reminded me of the old Paramore in places, but then it became a very strong lyrical driven song with collective chorus in the background that made it totally different to the old Paramore. The drums and guitar in the background I felt where more distinct and really good, but not as good as they used to be.  Then ‘Part II’ was very much the strength of old Paramore in their new album, so I definitely don’t think they’ve lost what they were, they’ve just changed and tried some new styles out that shows the versatility of them as a band and the vocal skills of Williams can only be applauded.

I was curious to find out that Hayley Williams is the only signed member of the band to Atlantic Records and that this was in part the reasoning behind the departure of Josh and Zac, the former slating on his blog Hayley and the recording company for manipulating her and seeing Hayley as a solo project. All rather controversial and conspiracy theory filled if you ask me. 

However despite all this, I’m definitely still a Paramore fan and curious to where they will be going in future, I think they still hold a lot of promise and touches of their old self was still present in places. And I am thankful the three remaining have decided to stay together and not disband as the music industry would be a lot different without them. I haven’t lost hopes that we’ll get a spunky, rocky songs yet again from them that’s filled full of angst and has me falling in love all over again if we get a new drummer and guitarist to add back to the ‘Paramore’ that once existed.

I’ll leave you with one of their newest songs, ‘Still Into You’ which is incredibly catchy, but not the rock you may remember which I think I’d like more if I knew the album consisted of more rock!

ParamoreParamore

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Dare You To

Dare You To

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Series: Pushing the Limits #2

Genre: Contemporary, Young-Adult, Romance

Expected Publication: May 28th 2013 by Harlequin Teen

The Plot.

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things.The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.
But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all…

The Review.

Dare You To is a contemporary novel as equally engaging as McGarry’s Pushing the Limits. However, Dare You To didn’t quite push the same buttons as Pushing the Limits for me, but despite this, I loved it all the same. I found that I engaged with the characters and their story and after the introduction took a while to assimilate with because the introduction felt a little stilted, but from then on out the novel was a whirlwind and it kept me hooked from start to finish playing on my emotions and making me smile as well as cry. I think the reason that I didn’t truly connect with McGarry’s Dare You To as much as Pushing the Limits because I felt that Pushing the Limits had more layers to it with the mystery and dynamic that it didn’t seem to be entirely romance centric and whilst McGarry draws in other elements in Dare You To with deprived neighbourhoods impacting upon the characters and their ideals and how the environment can manipulate the individuals. However, Dare You To lacked the mystery that pushed me on to read and devour and the romance took a major part of the story that reminded me it was contemporary. Despite this, I think McGarry reminded us so much why we love her characters and how well she allows the words to flow together.

I know so many people expected Beth and Isaiah to be together, and whilst I did, I actually preferred this route to that which McGarry took and the justification she gave in her novel for her decision. I think the choice she made for Beth and Isaiah represents how well she understands her characters at their deepest level and the progression they need to become who they truly are. Beth and Isaiah I felt would have restricted each other and McGarry addresses this factor in the novel because they had their ups and downs, but the friendship I think they’ll sustain will hopefully be a strong enough bond. After all, Beth never felt invested for me in Isaiah in book 1 and that troubled me, so I’m actually glad McGarry took a different direction. I urge you to not let this put you off reading Dare You To because of the couple she chose because the direction doesn’t take away from the novel at all.

Beth is a character that I struggled to like. I just couldn’t wrap my head around her decisions because she was on a path of self-destruction from the start and I just wanted to shake her, but I guess part of this was her love for her family and I appreciated that McGarry didn’t allow her to give up so easily. Beth was a stubborn, tenacious character with a rather broken spirit and that needed somebody to help rebuild her to a whole rather than like Isaiah, I felt he would have allowed her to spiral further into destruction, Ryan didn’t allow this. I liked that Beth always stood up for her beliefs, but at the same time her proneness to running annoyed me because it felt like a cliché for a lot of novels and she was such a strong character that she had the ability she just chose the easy way out. Most of all, I loved Beth’s spunk and her fashion sense and self-expression that really made her the diverse character in the small town so she wasn’t conforming to the way people expected her to behave. And the fact that by the end on her own terms she managed to form bonds and friendships between the other characters made me smile because truly, her tale of isolation was heart-breaking! This quote actually broke my heart a little bit at how innocent and endearing Beth could be at times despite her crusty exterior there was a girl I just wanted to wrap up and take away from all the hurt and pain.

“With a room like this, I bet he buys rand-name cereal.”

Ryan is a male protagonist that I really liked. If you’re worried about not liking him, he’s an easy character to worming his way into your heart. At first he seems like the player, but beneath the surface and the POVs splits between him and Beth really enabled you to uncover his thoughts. I liked that McGarry continued the theme of POV switches like she did between Noah and Echo is Pushing the Limits because it created consistency and enabled us to really understand both characters. Ryan seems to be rather one dimensional to start with and this is why I struggled with the introduction, but I guess McGarry tries to incorporate the theme of mystery around his family, but I don’t think she achieved it as successfully with Dare You To it felt more of a slow unravelling of the plot rather than mystery. However his character built up as we went along and despite some of the things he did and his first intentions he was a very sweet, caring character and he’s passionate about what he loves; baseball and writing. It’s so infectious.  And with Beth’s help, he eventually stands up for what he believes in.

“Baseball isn’t just a game. It’s the smell of popcorn drifting in the air, the sight of bugs buzzing near the stadium lights, the roughness of the dirt beneath your cleats. It’s the anticipation building in your chest as the anthem plays, the adrenaline rush when your bat cracks against the ball, and the surge of blood when the umpire shouts strike after you pitch. IT’s a team full of guys backing your every move, a bleacher full of people cheering you on. It’s … life.”

Beth and Ryan worked well together as a couple and I thought they challenged and pushed each other to change and do what needed to be done rather than they felt comfortable with. She really makes their characters to be real and not unrealistic Mary Sues.  I think this is truly where McGarry shines when she depicts the true relationships of characters and not something fluffy and unrealistic that some contemporaries I feel play on, which is why I can happily award her novels more than 3 stars because they appear to have more dimensions than one.

Oooh, McGarry also manages to write despicable character who you really hate. Gwen is a character I definitely despised. From the moment I met her, McGarry clearly showed us why we shouldn’t like her and she continued to build the case uncovering sub-plots that related to Lacy, Beth’s friend which I think it would have been nice to have seen explored more.  There was just something about Gwen that really grated against me and I’d be surprised if anybody liked her. She was just so self-centered and I liked how Lacy saw straight through her and supported Beth in the right direction. My only annoyance was how Beth allowed Gwen’s poison to get to her and that was the only real element of McGarry’s novel that I found unrealistic. I just didn’t understand the irrationality of her actions, but I like to think Beth used it more as an excuse than anything.

“Gwen,” I say in return. Reaching the concession stand, she sweeps her hair over her shoulder as she refocuses her attention. I keep staring, trying to remember why we broke up.

“Drama!” Lacy purposely blocks my view of Gwen’s ass.”

– Man much, Ryan, staring at her ass?

One element of this novel that I didn’t like was the reappearance of Echo and Noah. I adored their relationship in Pushing the Limits, but I don’t think McGarry captured the dynamic the same in bringing them back for a snapshot in this novel and that disappointed me. I didn’t want to see them in Dare You To if they appeared different because they seemed tainted by their environment in the destructive environment and Pushing the Limits seemed to show a new direction and I felt like they’d taken a back-step. Maybe it was just me, but I’d have rather McGarry had eclipsed them entirely from the novel and not allow them to encroach on Beth and Ryan’s novel because Beth didn’t really get on well with either of them and I felt that the connection relied with Isaiah who wasn’t seen that much to say that they had such a close friendship. Thus, I expect to see Beth in the next book because of the dynamic Isaiah and Beth had.

For those of you wondering about Isaiah, he gets his own book, Crash Into You to make up the third book in the series and I’m very much looking forward to this one to summarise the little troupe, hopefully with happy endings because whilst McGarry delivers with an emotional rollercoaster, I don’t think she’ll leave you in despair.

Overall I really enjoyed Dare You To and fully expect most people to fall head over heels in love with it, if not more than Pushing the Limits, but for me, I think there was something special and new about the development of Pushing the Limits that didn’t quite touch Dare You To. However, I recommend the novel without reserve and I am eagerly awaiting the next because McGarry is an addiction all on her own.

*Quotes taken from an uncorrected e-copy provided through NetGalley thanks to Harlequin Teen.

~ 4 Books /  5 Books ~

Nerd Fact

So personally, I know very little about baseball except it involves bases and sounds like an English version of rounders. Therefore it being Ryan’s love, I thought I’d look up some facts about it.

It involves nine players on either side and you basically have to hit a ball and run around the four bases at the corners of a 90-foot diamond. With turns of batting and pitching, which I’m sure most, if not all of you know.

However, the early form of baseball was being played in the mid-eighteenth century in England with the first reference in A Little Pretty Pocket-Book by John Newberry and immigrants brought it to North America where they developed the modern version and by the nineteenth century it was seen as the Unite States’ national sport.

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Filed under 2013 Publication, 4 Books, Contemporary, E-book, Harlequin Teen, Katie McGarry, Romance, Young Adult

Through the Eyes of a Nerd: Super 8

Through the Eyes of a Nerd

This week I’m taking a look at the combined efforts of television gods, Stephen Spielberg and J. J. Abrams which is Super 8. A science-fiction, thriller-eque, mystery film that has lots of elements that can appeal to everybody.

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The simplicity of the posters is something that surprised me when first looking at the film, but I actually really like the understated look because it puts so much more emphasis on the producer and director. After all, the film doesn’t really have any big stars to draw in the audiences, but the skills of these two fabulous guys for me mean they weren’t needed at all and they manage to produce an exciting, engaging film without blockbuster stars.

Super 8 focuses on a American community with a gang of teen friends wanting to create a movie for a competition. It starts out with them sneaking out at night to film as they get the help of a girl from outside the guy gang to help them and drive.

However things go wrong at the train station and the train crashes when a professor drives his car into the train and an explosion occurs. From then out things begin to change and a military invasion puts the town on alert and the deputy Sherriff in a torn position.

What made Super 8 really spectacular for me was the focus on this group of teenagers who were working together but also managed to show different sides from the rather crazy kid who liked fire and explosions (the boy on the far left) to the bossy, demanding leader who was the film “director” (boy in the yellow left). Then when we throw in the deputy’s son Joe (blue coat, right), and the slightly geeky, but wussy boy (orange coat, far right). Then we add in a girl to the mix to cause more tensions and arguments between friends and family troubles which only spices things up and adds another layer to the story that makes it more than just science-fiction.

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One of my favourite relationships was between Joe and Alice who is played by Dakota Fanning’s younger sister. Elle Fanning. Looking on now, I can recognise the similarities between those two which I didn’t think of at the time of watching. However Alice and Joe both lived alone with their fathers whilst Joe’s mother had die08d and Alice’s mother had abandoned her and her father. These two certainly grew on me and they connected with each other. It was a rather cute romance and friendship brewing between the two as you could see the genuine care they held for each other. However their relationship was surrounded with the mystery of their father’s hate for each other which was serving to drive them apart. However the parental dynamic did add yet another layer to relationships and plot twists that rounded the whole plot line off nicely.

In terms of the science-fiction element, I could definitely see the touches on J. J. Abrams on the whole plot super 8 cubeand mystery because he never likes to reveal anything too soon and that certainly occurs here! However it adds to the mystery and builds up the suspense to keep you entertained as there is plenty of action going on in the meantime and nothing to be bored about.

I found that the science-fiction wasn’t too complex and could be appealing to both people who are science-fiction fans and those who are less interested. It does certainly touch on aliens and you do need to follow the plot to keep up, but it’s engaging, and refreshing view on aliens in a slightly different way. In addition to this, the young boy Joe is intelligent and brave and manages to connect with the alien in the story. It reminded me a little bit of a more modern version of E.T.

Super 8 was a fantastic film and lived up and surpassed all my expectations. It was about friendship, forgiveness, romance along with trust, bravery and determination at the centre of the teens life. Finally it wrapped in science-fiction and suspense to build up a great climax and had the good old evil military in there to present the rather suspicious conspiracy theories we all love!

 

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The Holders

The Holders

The Holders by Julianna Scott

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Young-Adult

Series: Holders #1

Publication: March 5th 2013 by Strange Chemistry

The Plot

Becca is a girl who is the female lioness. She is fiercely protective of her cub, a.k.a her brother. He has these voices in his head and she’s positive that he’s not deluded. She had defended him against all the men in white coats. In addition to this, she has to deal with the fact that her father abandoned her as a child and her brother and mother still idolise this man.

When two people come from a school, St. Brigid’s to promise a happily-ever-after and safe place, Becca is still the paranoid sceptical.

However this leads to moving all the way over to Ireland, but in the process a whole host of history is unveiled and there is Alex. The swoony, heart-throb who is utterly endearing, slightly frustrating, but a very loveable guy.

We get some shocks, some action and lots of quick page turning throughout this book that makes up a fabulous exciting fantasy novel that starts a series that promises to be thrilling!

The Review

The Holders is a book that has come about with plenty of praise for a debut novel, so I had fairly high expectations going into reading, and trust me, it did not disappoint. I was riveted from the very first moment of picking it up and turning the page. I just couldn’t stop reading this book and there was plenty of action delivered. It was exactly the book I needed to drag me into reading again and I think I’ve missed out on some of the intense action that comes with a short book. The Holders is not perfect, and the arc was surprisingly riddled with spelling errors, but it does make a very enjoyable book that made me smile and skipped it’s way into my heart.

Firstly I’m going to start with my favourite element of the whole novel, Alex. Now, I am not usually one for guys who’d I’d necessarily term “cute” like Zeke from ‘The Immortal Rules’, but Alex swept in and easily stole my heart. He was thoughtful, caring and an utterly faulty character which made him realistic. He blushed and was easily hurt, but I feel that literature is full of the “look at me” male heroes and in being so unlike these he captured my heart. I didn’t feel like he was trying to dominate the novel or control Becca like so many guys appear to go, he allowed her independence and actively encouraged it. Alex has undoubtedly made it onto my favourite love interests and the good  news there is only him to see and explore so I thought that Scott really embellished and rounded his character to show the good sides to him.

Then, without seeming conscious of the action, his hand came up and slowly brushed the stray hairs away from my face, softly grazing my cheek. My heart lurched and sputtered, and I prayed he couldn’t feel my hands shake against his shoulders. Holding my eyes with a look that made my stomach tight, he continued, “Don’t ever apologize for saying how you feel.”

Becca on the other hand, I didn’t love as much. She was a great strong, kick-ass protagonist, but her slight tendency to overreact annoyed me ever so slightly. Other than that, I really liked her. She was smart, caring and she clearly had a good relation with her brother and mother. However, I do feel there is more of her to uncover and that we didn’t get to know her character as much as we could have done and that more development is needed to really strengthen her.

The focus on the school and the world building was really good and whilst the school element may not be wholly original, I thought Scott built up a fantastic world of ‘The Holders’ and all the history that surrounded them. I felt that the magic of the really novel really captured the reader and drew me in so I had all my sense bombarded with the powers and talents of the characters. Scott handled the transition from America to Ireland exceptionally well and the rural landscape and greenery of Ireland was captured in the setting of the school with the woods and wildness. I really felt the greenness of the land creeping into the text and a love for the wild.

The main issue of this novel is, it’s pretty predictable on most levels this novel. The events that follow don’t come of much as a surprise, but honestly that didn’t detract all that much from my enjoyment and I happily turned the pages to unveil the next round of action.

Overall, I think The Holders is a really strong debut novel from Scott and I’m looking to future instalments for this series to see where Scott will take us. I definitely think everybody should take a chance with this one as it is lots of fun, an easy read and a whirlwind of action, cute romance and enjoyment.

~ 3.5 Books / 5 Books ~

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Filed under 2013 Publication, 3.5 Books, Fantasy, Julianna Scott, Magic, Romance, Strange Chemistry, Young Adult

Once Upon a Time…

I'm Back

There was a girl, named Nerd that blogged. Whom has now RETURNED from the abyss of exams.

PHEW. Exams are finally finished with—and trust me they were all rather horrible. On the bright side I now have stacks and stacks of books to read and hundreds of books on my kindle. I am immensely behind in all things reviews, so I’m just going to slog through at a slow pace.

And to top things off, I’ve hit over 150 followers whilst I’ve been away, so thank you very much guys! It means a lot and I hope you are all still with me! Thank you all so much and I look forward to conversing again soon!

May the blogging begin again!

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