Category Archives: E-book

3 Reasons I fell in Love with Anna and the French Kiss Series

So it’s official, I went and fell in love with the Anna and the French Kiss series within approximately 5 hours, after finally (months behind everyone else) jumping on the bandwagon to read. My hands were literally glued to Anna and the French Kiss, which I kept promising myself “one more chapter before bed” and ultimately forgoing sleep to consume the whole book. I read the first two books within the space of a day, and then decided I needed to draw myself away and lasted all of around a week, before succumbing to the calling of Isla and the Happily Ever After. (Oh, and mentally slap myself every time I read Isla phonetically rather than Ey-la – I have problems with saying that name as much as I love it!).

Love-Potion

By the point I reached the end of Isla, this was me; entirely star struck. What on earth had I just undertaken, reading contemporary, fluffy young-adult literature, finding genuine meaning, love, friendship and just all around elation?

So here begins my list of reasons to love the series, rather than composing a review for a set of books most of you have probably read/heard about, and you are honest to god bored of reading another mundane review.

1. THE CHARACTERS

I would literally compare how I feel about all the main characters: Anna, St. Clair, Cricket, Lola, Josh and Isla to how I feel (very nearly) about the Harry Potter characters. They are not perfect, they do have issues and they may not honestly be everyone’s cup-of-tea, however I found them quirky, relatable, fun and most of all likeable. Stephanie Perkins makes real effort to flesh out her characters, give them all backstories and connect them all in different ways, despite the fact that many of them end up living in different cities. Beyond these 6 main stars, she also brings in a plethora of secondary characters to support each individual, add more dimension to their character and make you understand them a little more.

Hermione-Ron-Luna-Ginny-Harry-Neville-harry-potter-7785816-500-277

Just sayin’, six awesome characters here, six awesome characters there..

I can literally probably talk your ear of for a good hour about these characters, but I am going to pick one as my favourite. I have to say it has to be Isla, there was just so many times when I connected with her and understood her.

“Because I thought no one could love me.”

“And why did you think that?”

“Because I didn’t think I was worth loving.”

Hattie takes this in. And then she hits me in the stomach. I yowl in surprise, and she hits me again. “Don’t be stupid.”

Ow.”

“Everyone is worthy of love. Even a dumb sister like you.”  – Isla and the Happily Ever After

YEAH SHE MAY BE A BIT OF A DORKY, INSECURE IDIOT AND YOU WANT TO SLAP HER HERE, but that is okay, I did too and I am EXACTLY the same kind of person. Like seriously, Isla and her nerves (okay, I’m not nearly as bad, but sometimes I do stupid things and make situations awkward). Her doubt of herself, her continual pushing that things are not good enough (school nerd here), and just generally everything about her. Also her inability to handle painkillers – totally me.

“Oh, shit.” I tuck up a leg and smack my kneecap on the table. “Am I acting that loopy?” – Isla and the Happily Ever After

There were so many aspects that I loved, but the part that made me applaud Perkins more was that she made Isla realise who she was without Josh. SHE DID NOT NEED A BOY TO FIND HERSELF. WOOOO FOR FEMINISM. YES. GIRL YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT, GET WHAT YOU WANT AND THEN STILL FIND THE BOY LATER.

Anybody gathering that Isla and the Happily Ever After got five stars from me on Goodreads yet? Winking smile

“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”

And I realise…it’s okay. It’s okay if St. Clair and I never become more than friends. – Anna and the French Kiss

Although Isla is not the only book that Perkins does this in, she started it at the very beginning with Anna. SELF-REALISATION FOR THE WIN!

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2. THE SETTING

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“looks like a fantasyland castle – wet sand dripped through fingers, both sharp and soft. Bright construction lights are everywhere, and workers are tinkering around its massive spires in dangerously tall cranes.” – Isla and the Happily Ever After

I mean, I literally visited Barcelona this summer, I saw the amazing Gaudi’s church. (My beautiful photography *laughs* – it’s just so tall and I’m so small, there is undoubtedly neck cramp here. Yes it’s also the background of my blog!). THIS IS WHERE ISLA AND JOSH WERE. I mean, I literally love the fact that I was there, and so were they (I do remember they’re fictional, okay). Barcelona has to be one of my favourite European cities, it is just so beautiful. I think this has to also be why I connected to Isla and the Happily Ever After so much more.

We’re splashing towards the heart of Barcelona. Red- and yellow- striped flags – some with the blue triangle and star of independence, some without – hang everywhere from apartment balconies, soaked with storm. The city’s appearance is distinctly Western European, but it’s also filled with colourful architecture and steep hills. Palm trees and leafy trees. Purple vines and red flowers. – Isla and the Happily Ever After

Not to mention Paris, I love Paris. It has been a long time since I visited, but I have plans to go back next year and the majority of the setting was in Paris. It is such a beautiful, romantic city. Just downright being set in Europe won me over from the start because most YA contemporary teen fiction is set in America, and I don’t mind, but occasionally, I want something different, something European.

3. THE ROMANCE

Oh, Etienne St. Clair where are you? Oh, Cricket, the boy next door and Josh the troublesome artist.

I definitely have to say I found it hard to pick between love interests. As much as I loved Isla and the Happily Ever After, I do not think Josh was my favourite love interest. And whilst I think I loved Lola and the Boy Next Door the least out of them all, I do think Cricket was my love, the nerdy boy next door who cared about Lola and only wanted the best. There was just something so geeky and loveable about him.

I know you aren’t perfect. But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.Lola and the Boy Next Door.

I mean – weeping – somebody come sweep me off that feet with such a line? Perkins just seemed to make it so effortless when she sweeps you off your feet with her beautiful way with words, and carefully crafted romantic proposals.

Perkins does not just craft an easy boy + girl = fall in love and happily ever after. She brings in the fact that people fall in love with people in a relationship and are afraid to leave them when it doesn’t work, but why? She talks about how we might be too afraid to step from our comfort zone. How we might appear to others, but is that truly us? I think despite the fact that this is contemporary romance and at times, fluffy, there are real issues that she tries to deal with subtlety and with love and attention that makes reading these books such a beautiful experience.

“Mademoiselle Oliphant. It translates to ‘Point zero of the roads of France’. In other words, it’s the point from which all other distances in France are measured.” St. Clair clears his throat. “Its the beginning of everything.”

I look back up. He’s smiling.

“Welcome to Paris, Anna. I am glad you’ve come.” – Anna and the French Kiss

There are just far too many quotes to take from all these books (I realise I have taken probably lots from Isla in comparison to Anna and Lola, but there was just something magical about that book for me. 

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How could I resist the charms of these three guys?

Okay, I will admit this series is not perfect and it seriously has its imperfections, but there is just so much to love. So much beauty in her writing.

But I don’t want to give you this broken, empty me. I want you to have me when I’m full, when I can give something back to you. I don’t have much to give right now. – Lola and the Boy Next Door

This is me and how I am currently feeling towards any other book. This is The Absent Historian signing out on a serious book hangover, after falling in love with Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door and then having her heart confiscated by Isla and the Happily Ever After.

Now go read it if you haven’t already.

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Filed under 2010 Publication, 2011 Publication, 2014 Publication, 4 Books, 4.5 Books, 5 Books, Chick-Lit, Contemporary, Dutton, E-book, Romance, Stephanie Perkins, Young Adult

The Forbidden Queen

The Forbidden Queen

The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien

Genre: Historical-fiction, Romance, Adult

The Plot

The novel follows the journey of a young girl, Katherine de Valois who is realistically a mistreated, unloved French princess largely forgotten until she becomes of use as a pawn in peace agreements through marriage. She is thrust upon King Henry V in peace talks during the Hundred Years War and he is a man driven by war, with little interest in a wife except for producing an heir.

Katherine must deal with being largely unwanted by her husband, except to produce an heir, the consequences of being mother to the heir of the throne, being left widow and being the foreign enemy in an English court. A court inundated with controlling men, who have little time for a woman and her opinions and feelings. This forces Katherine to grow up in rather harsh conditions and lays testament to her strength with broken hearts, battles with those in power and struggles to be a mother.

The Review

The Forbidden Queen is a novel set in the prelude to one of my favourite periods of history, and this always leaves me wary to picking up such a novel. In general, historical-fiction as a history student is always a difficult one, because whilst I enjoy delving into a more imaginative side of history, sometimes the disregard for standard facts aggravates me. However, The Forbidden Queen whilst clearly being based on lots of imagination in terms of conversations, and the  real dynamics of relationships during this time, managed to encompass what I feel the 1400s would have felt like in England. I believe she encapsulated personalities and struggles from the events, and stuck largely to historical detail and it made a truly fantastic novel!

Katherine de Valois was a woman I fell in love with in this novel, my heart warmed to her throughout the novel. At the start I felt like she was childish and deluded, but part of the magic in this novel was how O’Brien developed her character and showed true growth to her as an individual that I imagine would to some degree be a true reflection. After all, when she left France, she was a scared young girl, basically still a child and by the time she was widow and mother to the heir of the kingdom, she was a much stronger, more capable individual and a woman with her own mind. Overall she was a likeable, strong individual and an important historical figure. After all, she birthed a king of England and was grandmother to another king of England, difficult to disregard such a woman in English history, even if she was the enemy!

There is ultimately a strong focus on romance throughout this book, and Katherine’s yearning for true affection, after receiving little from the Mad King, Charles VI her father and her mother the Isabeau a woman accused of adultery. Affection during this period was not common within royal families anyway, because the children were rarely raised by their parents. So Katherine stumbles through her early marriage, desperate for Henry V’s seal of approval, however he is much more interested in war. O’Brien really manages to interweave the romance with the historical events and descriptions, that provides greater plot and substance to the story.

Ultimately, the best part of the book for me does not arrive until much later in the story when Katherine meets Owen Tudor, which is when my attention was truly captivated. I have to warn you, O’Brien makes you work for happiness in this story, and it certainly tugs on your emotions, even at the end! The relationship between Katherine and Owen is everything is should honestly be, it develops once Katherine has achieved the kind of self-growth necessary to experience love, and Owen does not overpower her opinions. They are clearly an equal couple and one that I fully supported by the end, especially since it was something that actually happened.

O’Brien honestly brought these historical figures to life for me, she drew me into the English court and all the secrets, plots, hopes and dreams and weaved her magic with words. It was descriptive enough for me to visualise everything, yet O’Brien was never excessive. Overall The Forbidden Queen drew me into the 1400s with ease and elegance and kept my attention throughout. It is honestly a masterpiece in historical-fiction, and I encourage everyone to read it, not only because it serves to educate you a little about the basic happenings and people of this time in a fun, engaging and beautiful way, but it is genuinely a quality piece of fiction. I’ll be looking to get my hands on more O’Brien books now!

The Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

Extra note: I had an extremely busy week last week with moving back to University, packing and I also am pleased to announce, I can now drive because I finally passed my practical driving test! So hopefully I will be back to a regular posting schedule and dropping by your blogs from now on!

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Filed under 2013 Publication, 4.5 Books, Adult, Anne O'Brien, E-book, Historical Fiction, Mira Books, Romance

Book Review: The Walled City

The Walled City

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

Genre: Young-Adult, Crime, Fantasy, Gangsters

The Review

“There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run.”

These are the words that drew me in from the blurb of this book. In all honesty, I was unsure about a book that talked of rape, drug culture, gangsters, crime, death and prostitution, never mind the fact that it is a young-adult book. However, that does not mean to say I feel it is wrong for such a book to be published under the young-adult genre. After all, the term includes ‘adult’, the term only refers to somebody slightly below adult years and we have to enable our youth to learn and be educated through some means, and we cannot continue to hide the world from them. So I think whilst this book is gritty, harsh and at times dark and discomforting, it is a book that holds meaning, honesty and a brutal reflection of what human nature can lead to, and I think it is a fabulous addition to the young-adult genre as not the typical read.

The Walled City was unexpected in so many ways. It focused on three youths, Jin, Mei Yee and Dai. They all had secrets, all had a past and the alternate POVS throughout the novel slowly began to unravel their lives, their pasts, their hopes, dreams and needs and I really connected with all three of them. Personally I felt the strongest connection with Jin who is out in the Walled City to find her sister. She is young, but she is determined, feisty and frankly I would not want to mess with this young fireball. She is an absolutely brilliant character and my heart throughout the novel was firmly rooting for her. That is exactly what I want books I read to do too, have me rooting for the main character and living the story with them.

Dai is a mystery, and not exactly the one I expected. He is a likeable, rather tortured character, but underneath the first impression of a prickly, mysterious and rather untrustworthy exterior, he also found a place in my heart.

Mei Yee is the character I connected least with, however I feel that is because we got to know her least. By the end I could see her as an equally strong individual as Jin and Dai, but she faced her own struggles, being sold into prostitution at an early age by her father and being locked in one building for her future, it does appear that she lives a dismal life. There are no real explicit descriptions of the prostitution or lewd events in the brothel, however there are a couple of rather sadistic moments of brutality from a customer and the master to be aware of.

Throughout the novel Graudin is challenging how human nature has allowed this ‘Walled City’ to be created which is a place untouched by the laws of society and police force so that drugs, crime and death can continue. It challenges how human nature can become so depraved. Despite all of this, underneath it are shining moments of friendship, determination, a genuine care for others, doing the right thing and family.

There is a small amount of romance in the novel, but honestly it is not the dominant aspect, in fact it is entirely limited in terms of the plot. This is one of the other reasons why I really enjoyed this novel, because it was a somewhat refreshing look at the young-adult genre without the dominant aspect being romance. It was about friendship, family and trusting others with not just emotions, but your life. Having said that, the romance was entrancing, well-written and it was genuinely built up to. I thought it fit into the narrative with a fluid ease and was not forced in the slightest.

When I finished this novel and found out Graudin had based her novel in part upon a place called Kowloon’s Walled City in Hong Kong which in some ways made her question the type of people that would be there and the happenings, it made it all seem more realistic and heart-wrenching. Obviously the novel is fictitious which leads to the kind of fantasy element, because I would struggle to label this city as ‘contemporary’. Although the genre labelling is one topic that I struggled with when it came to this novel. Despite all this, Graudin is making a clear statement against human trafficking and I appreciated the message of the novel.

Overall, The Walled City was a novel that sent my emotions into turmoil, tugged on my heartstrings and had me racing through the last part of the novel. I almost certainly applaud Graudin on tackling such a sensitive topic, not being afraid to delve into the grit and darkness of humanity and coming out the other side successfully with 5 shining stars that shows human nature is not all bad. An absolutely phenomenal addition to the young-adult genre, and so splendidly written that every word despite being full of grit and tension, was quite beautiful to read; I recommend it to you all!

Survival Chances: 87%

Expiration Date: 2095

Favourite Quotes *quotes taken from an earc subject to change on publication

But there are still more wishes in my soul than there are stars. I wish I could hold Jin Ling’s hand in mine, I wish Sing never tried to run. I wish the boy didn’t make my chest burn, make my thoughts soar like a phoenix. I wish every girl in this brothel could be one of the lucky ones. I wish, like the boy, I was somewhere else. Someone else. And on and on and on.

“I work alone,” I say quickly. I do everything alone: eat, sleep, run, steal, talk, cry. It’s the curse of the second rule: Trust no one. The cost of staying alive.”

We stay like this for a long time. Skin to skin under false stars. The ones that never fall.

Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

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Filed under 2014 Publication, 5 Books, Crime, E-book, Fantasy, Little, Brown and Company, Ryan Graudin, Young Adult

The Blue Blazes

TheBlueBlazes-144dpiThe Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig

Series: Mookie Pearl #1

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Adult

The Plot
The Blue Blazes draws together the criminal, gangster underworld and supernatural happenings to give a rather unique take on an urban-fantasy novel. There may be creatures of the dark that haunt your nightmares, but the key feature of the novel surrounds drugs. The ‘blue blazes’ that provide supernatural strength, endurance and enhanced senses is the drug everyone wants to have on their side in battle. However it isn’t that only drug that everyone is searching for, as the main character Mookie uncovers.

Mookie Pearl is a man involved in both the supernatural and gangster underworld, but his family life also crosses over between the two and the novel follows him, and his spats with his daughter that adds yet another dynamic to this urban-fantasy novel.

The Review

 

Chuck Wendig is an author that not everyone will appreciate, but I read the first two books in his Miriam Black series and enjoyed them, I was curious to test out another series by him. However, like with the Miriam Black series he does not shy away from the violence and brutality, harsh language and rather grumpy, sometimes dislikeable characters that characterised the Miriam Black series. Nevertheless, he has a fantastic imagination, and if you don’t mind those sorts of things, delving into The Blue Blazes is an exciting, unique journey that served to keep my interest!

The Blue Blazes is not to me the typical urban-fantasy novel, which I think sets it head and shoulders apart from its genre. Wendig takes on something a little more adventurous and more applicable to modern day and succeeds with flying colours to craft it into a believable, exciting and scary fantasy world. After all, we have drugs in our world, why can’t there be ones that bring about supernatural changes?

Mookie Pearl admittedly is not an easy man to like, he doesn’t make the best life choices and his conflict with his daughter and seeming ignorance of her life makes him seem like a poor father figure. Throughout the novel he doesn’t really seem to make real attempts to mend the broken relationship and whilst his daughter and her wild attempts on her father’s life when she opposes his gang seem to make such things difficult, he still seems to be a rather harsh character. However, he does undergo some character development in terms of sorting out his family relations that redeems him in my eyes. He’s also not the typical main character that usually stares in the books I read and I enjoyed exiting from my comfort zone. Especially since he has a strong sense of identity developed and he is a hard-man with a lot of gruff, ready-to-roll style.

The Blue Blazes has a lot to offer in terms of fantasy and criminal underground dynamics that makes it unusual. It’s exciting, tense and it has tonnes of potential for the future series. I am definitely intrigued to know more about the origins of the drugs, what will happen with them all and especially the gang dynamics after things collapse a little at the end of The Blue Blazes. One thing this novel was not, was predictable and I will definitely be looking out to get my hands on the second instalment of the Mookie Pearl series. This might not be your usual type of book, but definitely take a leap of faith and try The Blue Blazes, as I think any fantasy fan can appreciate Wendig’s innovative slant on the criminal underground!

Historical Survival Chances

I have been contemplating for a short time now, how I rate books, and whilst I might give this book a solid 4.5 stars, will it last into the future? Will people in 20-30 maybe even 100 years time be reading Chuck Wendig like we read Mary Shelley or Dickens?

Wendig is innovative and creative enough that I think in the genre of urban-fantasy, he might stand a strong chance of being read well into the future. So I will be applying a survival chance percentage and an expiration date to the novel when I think people might no longer hold interest in these types of things.

Survival Chance: 65%    

Expiration Date: 2064

Favourite Quotes

“The Blazes are like that: the blue stuff doesn’t merely tear aside the facade to reveal the monsters, but when on it, the whole of the Underworld pulses with a different kind of energy.”

“The saying goes that there is more below the streets of New York City than there is above them. An exaggeration by those who say it, perhaps, but they don’t known just how accurate that statement truly is. Hell’s heart, as it turns out, has many chambers.”

 

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

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Filed under 2013 Publication, 4.5 Books, Adult, Adventure, Angry-Robot, Chuck Wendig, E-book, Fantasy, Uncategorized

Wallbanger

WallbangerWallbanger by Alice Clayton

Series: Cocktail #1

Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Chick-lit

The Plot
Wallbanger is a light, entertaining and humorous read, following the journey of Caroline who upon moving into a new apartment discovers her neighbour is quite the man! He in fact, is often found making nightly noises (I’m sure your imagination can fulfil the gap for now) with several different women that definitely hits the wall and is heard through the wall since Caroline and the mystery ‘Wallbanger’ share a bedroom wall she is also kept up nightly. The plot unravels from there following the journey of Caroline, her relationship troubles, her neighbour and the novel builds upon the premise of an unlikely relationship forming between her and the ‘Wallbanger’.
The Review
Wallbanger is one of those novels that is light, fluffy and pure entertainment! There is very little that is serious about this novel and it serves to be the perfect escape romance. However I do fear that the novel is very much based upon taste in terms of the humour which is obviously different amongst individuals. Personally I am not a massive chick-lit fan, but I engaged well with Wallbanger and although near the end I had a tendency to skim a little bit, overall I found myself immersed in the story.

Caroline had a solid character and personality that made her almost certainly a likeable character.  She likes to cook and bake, and she’s an interior designer who is proud of her job and this is evident by the hard work she puts in. However I did not really feel like she really brought this into her own home and I felt like we could have sensed more of her personality throughout the novel. There were moments where I felt she also had a tendency to fall into emotional dramatic scenes that were rather unnecessary in my opinion and did frustrate me. In addition to that, I felt like the strength of her character drained a little by the end of the novel and she was not nearly as strong as at the start. This disappointed me a little because I felt like it would have made the last part of the novel much stronger.

The ‘Wallbanger’ himself is quite the enigma and not as he first appears. He was incredibly suave, kind and caring and not at all what you first expect. I actually really liked his character and at moments he found himself floundering with Caroline who refused to give him a chance or hear him out entirely. However his persistence is certainly something that is a strong redeemable quality and maybe a very romance novel based quality!

I fear this novel could not be complete without the trusty pet, the cat, Clive. He certainly makes a strong addition to the humour and I found myself enamoured with him. I feel that novels without animals these days appear to be a little incomplete as they always tend to round character with their unexpected antics and Clive certainly is a pesky little devil, but a loveable one. In addition to this, Caroline was clearly a loveable owner and that showed throughout the novel and this affection is certainly the right way to portray pet owners, so Clayton is given both thumbs up here!

The plot, well it basically centres on the romance of the ‘Wallbanger’ and Caroline, but it does not just appear out of nowhere and that is the strong element of Wallbanger as chick-lit because it creates a friendship and emotional connection between the two that builds up over time. In addition to this, there are several plot strands to the romance that interweave and give it a little more substance.

Overall, Wallbanger is a solid addition to the chick-lit genre, and admittedly it won me over to a genre I don’t usually venture into. I can see that Wallbanger will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed it and I am certainly tempted by the future sequel to see where things go even for a novel that is not perfect. If you have a spare few hours, I recommend giving it a chance since you might just find you enjoy it after all!

Favourite Quotes

“No woman has ever done breakfast bread foreplay the way you do.
Ha! When you coming?
Can’t. Drive. Straight.
Can we have one conversation when you’re not twelve?
Sorry, I’ll be there in 30.
Perfect, that will give me time to frost my buns.
Pardon me?”

“The girl next door was meowing. What in the world was my neighbor packing to make that happen?
Clive, at this point, went utterly bonkers and launched himself at the wall. He was literally climbing it, trying to get where the noise was coming from, and adding his own meows to the chorus.”

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 3 Books, Adult, Alice Clayton, Chick-Lit, Contemporary, E-book, Omnific Publishing, Romance

Storm

10401084Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Series: Elementals #1

Genre: Young-Adult, Paranormal-Romance

The Plot
Storm is a novel that follows the path of one girl, Becca Chandler and her encounters with fellow pupils at school, which is the likes of past-boyfriends and secrets that the plot follows to uncover, it also includes the Merrick family and in particular Chris. In addition to this, there is a new boy present, an absent father, a demanding best friend and some paranormal elements that are not quite the traditional vampire/werewolf aspect and this make things a little more interesting. So as expected there is romance, potentially of the double-trouble kind (love triangle alert!) and some paranormal-magic to spice things up and drive the action along which there is plenty of!

The Review

Storm is a book that is not quite fabulous, but not entirely awful. It manages to be engaging and exciting, whilst at times utterly predictable which made it a little exasperating when it fit exactly into what I was expecting. I was hoping in some regards that there would be a greater twist or something that would entirely surprise me, but it did not, and for me that was the downfall of this novel. Having said that, I still believe there to be a fair few redeeming qualities about the novel. The literary prose flows freely and I did not have any issues with the writing style, in fact it was a very easy, enjoyable read. The book has a fast paced plot that keeps you turning the pages and this makes up for the predictability. In addition to this, most of the characters I largely liked. However upon my deconstruction of the book I do feel, it deserves 3 stars rather than the initial 4 I gave it.

Becca Chandler the female protagonist of this novel; I almost certainly have a love/hate relationship with this character and honestly I still feel like I am sitting on the fence a little in regards to her. At moments she is this strong, brave and fierce individual who runs headlong into things to save others and the next she appears some tormented, bratty and annoying teenage girl who has “daddy issues” and appears to be a little bit of wild child. However the “wild child” image is not really one I felt other than the derogatory comments from the ‘jocks’ of the story and I thought the whole story line was rather useless in terms of plot and character development. It made me cringe away more than anything because it presented a group of ‘jocks’ as brutish, vulgar individuals and did nothing to discriminate from a very common stereotype. By the end of the story, I still feel like my issues with Becca and her overall progression seem a little unresolved.

Honestly the next part is my own fault for not really reading the blurb, but the love triangle was not something I was expecting. It was frustrating at best and again by the end of the novel it still felt largely open-ended and unresolved and when I see the next novel moving to focus on an a different individual from the series, it leaves me with little comfort. The two male individuals in question seemed to develop fairly quick infatuations with Becca and in particular, the New Kid, Hunter who has hundreds of females in the school to pick from finds Becca the most appealing. To me it all seemed a little far-fetched and I did not feel like there was enough about Becca to warrant this ‘fight’ over her. Personally I took a large dislike to Hunter from the start and something about his character I found downright creepy and he grated on me. I felt there was very little redeeming about him and his odd behaviour that was eventually resolved did not in the end serve to make me like him anymore.

This leaves us with the Merrick brothers, and in particular Chris who I liked much more. Despite his oh so expected conflicted personality and family issues that seem to encompass the YA genre like a suffocating cloak, he was a character I could like. Although the fact his brothers were the hottest creatures on the earth and Becca was not able to function when they were shirtless in the same room was a little bit tedious. The redeeming quality here was the family relationship and the dynamic between the brothers, I definitely felt the camaraderie and bond between brothers and that certainly made me root for them as a family throughout the novel.

Finally the plot concept itself in terms of the paranormal element was actually a fairly interesting one, and my only complaint was that little more was learnt of the origin and the ideas behind that. In fact, I think for an introductory novel to the series, Kemmerer should have made much more of the elementals idea and this left me disappointed. I feel like there is much still to learn about the powers of the brothers and those involved in the story, and I very much hope Kemmerer builds on this, or I can see myself being sorely disappointed.

Overall I devoured Storm and the book is far from being bad, however I fail to have been blown away. I definitely realise the standards I am setting for books are ever increasing, so I hope the next novel Spark will help resolve the issues that this book raised for me. Certainly I would recommend Storm as a quick, lazy day read that helps you escape from reality for a few hours and contains a few potential book boyfriends depending on your type, but I would not go to extreme efforts in making time for this series yet!

Favourite Quotes

“Touch was funny like that. How one movement could choke you and kill you, but another meant nothing more than a caress and an invitation.”

“Crap, Bex, do you think he’ll do something truly horrible like buy you flowers?”

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

 

 

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 3 Books, Brigid Kemmerer, E-book, Kensington, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult

Walking Disaster

Walking DisasterWalking Disaster by Jamie Maguire

Series: Beautiful #2

Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary, Romance

The Plot
Walking Disaster for those of you who have read Beautiful Disaster is basically a retelling of that from Travis’ perspective and for those of you who are yet to read Beautiful Disaster (although I would not recommend it), it is a novel recounted from the perspective of the male love interest, a boy with severe issues.  This novel depicts an obsessive, controlling and frankly disturbing tale of ‘romance’ in which violence, possessiveness and drugs, drinking and gambling all appeared to be advocated in young-adults to excessive qualities. Read with caution.

The ReviewWhat was I thinking? Starting Walking Disaster seemed like such a good idea at the time, however after making my way into this book, my opinion descended rapidly, within the first few pages. However I continued the torture of reading and repeating the events of everything that happened in the first book with a painful expression. By 60% I was losing the will to live, but for some reason I continued and skim read largely to the end. I guess part of me would hope Walking Disaster would be able to redeem itself from the first book, however it just made the experience ten times worse. There is absolutely no need for the first book to be rewritten from the perspective of Travis. In fact,  being inside his head just made the whole experience worse. Travis is beyond the worst example for a boyfriend to the young-adult population. He is a controlling, possessive and violent individual who supports the view that it is acceptable to pick up your ex-girlfriend and carry her through a party because some other guy danced with her, after punching him. He has a very negative attitude off the female population that is derogatory and demeaning and when this is written by a female author I frankly find it disgusting. Not only does she continue to promote themes of violence, excessive drinking and gambling, but she presents a very archaic, cave-man approach to man and a very bad relationship ideal. NO girl should aim to find a boyfriend like Travis and the thought of people seeing him as acceptable makes my stomach want to turn.
Pigeon or Abby annoyed the living daylights out of me. She continued to allow herself to be deluded by Travis, fell into all of his traps and basically led him along in an unnecessary string of angst and pain. It was physically frustrating to read. I do not honestly understand her thought patterns even when I read Beautiful Disaster. She is almost certainly not a strong individual or a type of girl anybody should ever aspire to be!

The plot… What plot? There is no direction with this novel. It is fully a teenage angst drama that deals with two individuals breaking up, crying, drinking and going wild and then getting back together, then breaking up again. The two appear to continue to fight and basically hurt each other intentionally because they can.
I will not ever be reading another Jamie McGuire book and I can safely say, I am so utterly sorry for ever starting this series. In this case my curiosity for bad books, this was a very bad decision. I just warn you all away.

The Rating: 1 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website 

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Filed under 1 Book, 2013 Publication, Atria Books, Contemporary, E-book, Jamie McGuire, New-Adult, Romance

Fangirl

fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young-Adult

The Plot

Fangirl is about a girl called Cather moving away to college, dealing with new people, new experiences, living alone and being without her twin Wren for the majority of the time, who is off partying and ‘living the college experience’.

Cather is a quiet, shy individual, who is awkward and geeky and still stuck in her world of Simon and Baz, characters from her favourite book series, who she writes tonnes of fanfiction about.

Fangirl also happens to be about growing up, learning to communicate with people, relationships and family. It has a lot of dynamics that make it about more than being just a ‘fangirl’.

The Review

Fangirl has to be one of my favourite contemporary reads, it also happens to be my first Rainbow Rowell book and I just could not tear myself away from the book. It definitely left a little bit of itself with me when I read it, especially when moving away to University around the same time as I was reading it, I could definitely understand and empathise with some of the situations Cather was in. Personally, I think this book will depend on the type of person you are, to how much you like it, in terms of whether you fall absolutely in love, or just like it.

Cather for me is an adorable heroine. She’s awkward, geeky, frustrating and always seemingly out of her depth, but she shows real growth throughout the novel and she is a likeable character. Her obsession with Simon and Baz, fictional characters, is kind of one I wanted her to lose throughout the novel, but she never did and whilst that annoyed me a little bit, I think it demonstrated that no matter how old you are, you can still enjoy getting lost in fiction, and manage to mature at the same time. Cather went through quite a few difficult moments in terms of family when dealing with her dad and his mental health issues, becoming estranged from her twin and meeting her mother who abandoned her when she was younger. It definitely shows Rowell was not afraid to tackle more serious issues with this novel, but then I liked how she still managed to interweave romance despite Cather’s blissful ignorance.

Levi is one of my all time favourite love interests, he is charming, cute and he cares about Cather. Despite the fact she is not aware that he flirts with her and goes out of his way to help in an attempt to get her to notice that he likes her, he does not give up. He is definitely a good guy, and the type of love interest contemporary romances should be projecting because whilst the ‘bad boy’ might hold appeal, he is not always the perfect guy for every girl or always a good role model. 

Finally, the bunch of secondary characters beyond this which were Wren, Reagan and the twin’s father happen to be fairly well developed in terms of their personalities, style and story. I wish in some ways we had gotten to know a little bit more about Reagan who is Cather’s room mate, but despite her surly exterior, I loved the way she took Cather under her wing and looked out for her as a friend despite saying she wasn’t that type of person. In addition to this, the twin aspect of the story was one I really enjoyed, and whilst for the first half of the novel I did not particularly like Wren, I understood her behaviour and style. I was pleased largely by the resolution of the plot line between the siblings and I definitely think the family aspect of the novel was important.

One of the reasons I loved Fangirl was because it became so much more than a contemporary romance, it definitely looked at growing up, discovering yourself and facing challenges with family and studying as you are away from home. There were a couple of aspects such as the lack of real resolution between Cather and her mum and the lack of knowledge about how Cather ended her Simon and Baz story that I would have liked to have seen more fully developed. Nevertheless, Fangirl for me had a lot of potential that it fully lived up to and I’ll be putting it on my shelf for a rainy day re-read when I need a book that is bound to tick all the boxes.

Favourite Quotes

“I know.” Reagan shook her head. “But you’re so helpless sometimes. It’s like watching a kitten with its head trapped in a Kleenex box.”

“You’re not the ugly one.” Levi grinned. “You’re just the Clark Kent.”

Cath started checking her e-mail.

“Hey, Cath,” Levi said, kicking her chair. She could hear the teasing in his voice. “Will you warn me when you take off your glasses?”

“How do you feel when I smile at you?” he asked—and then he did smile at her, just a little. Not like myself, Cath thought. She gripped his hands tightly, for balance, then stood on tiptoe, leaning her chin over his shoulder and brushing her head gently against his cheek. It was smooth, and Levi smelled heavy there, like perfume and mint. “Like an idiot,” she said softly. “And like I never want it to stop.”

The Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

17 Comments

Filed under 2013 Publication, 4.5 Books, Contemporary, E-book, Rainbow Rowell, Romance, St. Martin's Press, Young Adult

Gone with the Wolf

Gone with the Wolf

Gone with the Wolf by Kristin Miller

Series: Seattle Wolf Pack #1

Genre: Paranormal-Romance, Werewolves, Adult

Publication: April 21st 2013 by Entangled

The Plot

CEO and alpha werewolf Drake Wilder has given up the search for his one true love. When he discovers that she’s a secretary in his company, Drake’s primal instincts kick into overdrive.
What he wouldn’t give to have her fingers rake over his body instead of the keyboard…

Free-spirited bartender Emelia Hudson wants nothing more than to make her Seattle-based bar succeed. But when profits decline, she slips into a dress suit and secures a nine-to-five. After learning that her bar has become property of Wilder Financial, Emelia is determined to get some answers.

Two can play the ruthless business game. If only her attraction to the boss wasn’t so intense…
When Drake’s twin brother senses that Drake has found his match—and now inherits their father’s billion dollar estate—he hatches a plan to take Emelia out. Drake vows to protect her at all costs, but he might have to pay with his own life.

My Review

Originality was rather lacking in the department of Gone with the Wolf. It felt like it fell into the typical cliche of Rich Man + Poor Woman + Angst over social and monetary value = Happily Ever After. Having said that, there still managed to be entertaining moments that I’ve labelled the “good bits” but there were quite a few “bad bits” to match those that damped my overall enjoyment of the book. Overall, it was rather forgettable too, which makes it harder to enjoy a book when nothing strikes you as entirely original.

Honestly, it was quite a while ago since I read this, and I’ve found that much of the details have slipped from my memory. However, Emelia Hudson the protagonist of our story I do recall grating on me quite a lot. She was supposedly free-spirited and whilst she had spunk enough to rebel against Drake, she quickly became drawn to him and didn’t provide that much opposition to him. There were moments when she was clearly against being dragged into his world and suspicious, but as it seems with the paranormal-romance genre, she accepted things a little too readily.

Drake was a rather interesting character, I couldn’t quite pinpoint his emotions at all the times and he was a little stupid. He was also a little frustrating, but eventually he unravelled to see the typical romance figure who didn’t quite understand the girl to start with as he bulldozed in as the “alpha male”. Luckily he rectified that by the end, and I managed to like him a fair amount.

His face didn’t twitch, flinch, flex. Nothing. He barely responded to her presence at all. Like the kiss last night never happened.

The concept wasn’t overly original, but the idea was Drake had to find his “mate” before his evil twin brother to gain control of their father’s pack. However he’d been searching for a long time and about given up hope on that aspect. It makes for a rather, race against time aspect in whether Emelia will accept him and adds some tension. Nevertheless the typical bad family relations that usually provide that angst for paranormal-romance was present and a little tiresome.

Ultimately I enjoyed the romance was a strong, rather entertaining aspect that certainly provided a few shivers. It was more or less the focus of the story, the relationship that kind of occurred rather than a progressive relationship. In addition the “plot” of the story tended to focus largely around the romance, so there wasn’t much substance to the novel.

She gasped for air, clutched at his back, and ache to taste more of his lips.

He dove down to her neck, smudging deliciously wet kisses along her collarbone and back up to her chin.

Overall, Gone with the Wolf is a romance that’s great for a quick, rainy day read as just something light and fluffy. There isn’t much too it and it’s not the best paranormal-romance or werewolf story, but neither it is the worst!

~ 3 Books / 5 Books ~

2 Comments

Filed under 2013 Publication, 3 Books, Adult, E-book, Entangled Publishing, Kristin Miller, Paranormal Romance, Werewolves

Charm & Strange

Charm & Strange

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Werewolves

Publication: June 11th 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin

The Plot

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.
He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

My Review

Charm & Strange was utterly compelling from the first moment I entered the pages and it haunted me long after putting it down. It’s hard to fully review this book without giving everything away because there is a complexity that is intriguing and the plot whilst I could guess was truly unexpected from my first thoughts. This book is certainly not what it first appears and I applaud Kuehn for her choice of topic and clever handling of it. She chooses to do so in a rather unique fashion and this for me separates Charm & Strange from every other debut on the shelf. Kuehn strove for that originality and in my opinion, she certainly achieved it.

At first I struggled with the narrative style that switched between present and past and Win our unreliable protagonist only managed to make it seem more choppy and jolty with his odd ways and stilted manner at times. However I soon became sucked into the time switches and the prose was genuinely beautiful. I’m not usually one to be bothered by the narrative style all that much, but there was something rather haunting in Kuehn’s style that kept me entranced. I did find that the last part of the book was a little abrupt and rushed compared to the first, very large section of the book and it was rather a let down in terms of suspense. The ultimate end felt like a little bit of anti-climax, but despite this I would urge you to read the book.

From what I can tell, mortality is a word. Nothing more. There’re the things people do when others are watching and the things we do when they aren’t. I’d like to believe Anthony Burgess knew that, but then that dumb last chapter of his book went and ruined the whole thing. That made me mad, and so I think the movie version got it right: people don’t change. Their nature, that is. There are other kinds of change, of course.*

Another point that caused me great confusion to begin with was how to label this book. Is it contemporary or is it paranormal? Well, Win is a very confused and broken teenage boy and it was utterly heart-breaking to feel from his perspective and see through his eyes. I appreciated that we had the teenage boy perspective that wasn’t full of bravado and strength because not every teenage boy is that. Still, he believes he is a wolf and this is the driving force behind the novel and only adds to the unsettling chill and fear that seeps into your bones as you read. It really has an unnerving edge to be in Win’s mind, especially when he moves further and further to the edge of sanity. The journey he takes to uncover himself is one that doesn’t quite slip away from you and for that reason I urge you to read this book. To take the journey with Win and uncover the beauty of Kuehn’s writing craft.

Finally, Kuehn’s novel was absent of romance for Win and for that alone I found it different and refreshing. She focuses on the state of a teenager and the bond between family and I think this enabled me to relate into the storyline and connect with the characters. However I must warn you, the book isn’t all that happy and the rather sombre, dark colours of the new cover certainly reflect the air of despair and mystery at times that encompass this book. It’s poignant, innovative and thought-provoking so don’t miss out. I have nothing else to say, but read it now and be prepared for the unexpected!

4.5 Books / 5 Books

*Quote taken from an uncorrected e-arc copy.

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Filed under 2013 Publication, 4.5 Books, Contemporary, E-book, Mystery, St Martin's Griffin, Stephanie Kuehn, Werewolves, Young Adult