Category Archives: 2011 Publication

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!

tumblr_mxh5sdbEjt1rs5d04o2_500

2. THE SETTING

P6261728P6261732

“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. 

large

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.

14 Comments

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

Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road by Moria Young

Series: Dust Lands #1

Genre: Dystopia, Young-Adult, Romance

Published: June 2nd 2011 by Scholastic

The Plot.

“I ain’t afeared of nuthin.”

When Saba’s brother is stolen, red rage fills her soul.

She races across the cruel dustlands to find him.

Saba can trust no one. Even the boy who saves her life.

She must silence her heart to survive.

Blood will spill.

The Review.

Blood Red Road is a novel I have seen everywhere! It seems to just keep popping up in the world of YA books and blogging alike and when I saw a copy in my library I just knew I had to get my hands on it. It didn’t disappoint me, although it was entirely not what I expected. I’m not sure what I thought would happen going into the novel but it blew me away on a whirlwind of different, rather brutal scenes that kept a fast-paced, emotional and exciting plot. It touched on friendship, family, trust and a destruction in the world that is the undertone for most dystopia/post-apocalyptic novels.

Firstly I’m going to start with the most distinctive part of Blood Red Road and that being the writing style. I have read a few reviews that rant about grammatical correctness and the language being hard to get into and unreadable, but frankly I adored it. Now I realise it won’t be for everyone, but I immediately fell into the character and style of Saba and it only enabled me to connect so much more to her as a character. I found that it distinguished the novel into a unique light that makes it different from other dystopia novels of its age and I like Young’s daring to step outside the boundaries of grammatically correct fiction because whilst I always appreciate a well-written novel, Blood Red Road brought with it rough edges that really reflected the brutality of the world. Another element to why I enjoyed the language so much is because it reminded me of something rather archaic and old world that I loved. The interesting concept to wrap your mind around is the lack of differentiation between speech and Saba’s thoughts, but it quickly becomes easy to pick up and fall into reading.

It was all set in the stars the moment the world began. The time of yer birthin, the time of yer death. Even what kinda person yer gonna be, good or bad.”

Young brings you in rather steadily I felt to this language style because the further the novel develops, the more Saba seems to slip into the “yer” and “kinda” that truly encapsulate her character. Moving on to Saba’s character she annoyed the hell out of me, she was stubborn, ungrateful and refused to believe she could be wrong, but in a way she reminded me of myself in the fact that I can’t be wrong and I think that’s what made her relatable; her faults. I don’t want to read about a perfect character and she certainly wasn’t, but she developed with her band of friends and family that she acquired (the friends, not the family) over the novel and seeing her character change before you eyes, especially when the novel was narrated through her eyes was really enlightening. I also liked that she was tough and feisty because she wasn’t prepared to let other people fight her battles and whilst this at times could be a flaw to her desire to conquer the world on her own, I did love her for it. Saba has to be one of my favourite heroines because she was smart, feisty, full of faults, but at the heart of her she cared and that was what pushed her forward.

My choice of next character is a crow, Nero. Not just any crow. I have never quite found myself enamoured with a crow and when I see them flying and swooping about their send shivers down my spine with their circling and caws. However Nero was a crow that crept into my heart in his smart behaviour and his loyalty to Saba. The dynamic of their relationship was interesting and I never thought Young would be able to develop a crow in such a manner that he could be almost like a person. He is an integral part to the novel and as such, he appears on the cover I have. I rather like the simplicity and effectiveness of this cover with the stark black of Nero and the red blood splatter that covers the words with the road in yellow to symbolise the dustlands. It’s incredibly effective in portraying the novel.

The next character I’m going to look at is Jack… It took me a while to get my head around this boy and like Saba I was wary. I felt at every moment he was going to break my heart in some way and he was exceedingly complicated. And the fact that I didn’t like his character to start with, or how he treated Saba. I thought he was unfair and he behaved in a way that he had no right to, but then when you really looked, he helped her and I liked that my opinion of him changed by the end of the novel. I could appreciate him as a sexy love interest and a brooding hero, but he didn’t capture my heart. I followed the rather torturous romance between these two and watched it break my heart and I wanted to shake them both, but I didn’t feel invested in loving Jack like I have done with so many previous love interests. There was just something about his character that didn’t settle with me.

“Jack’s voice comes from behind me, makes me jump.

He ain’t got a chance when you smile at him like that.

I turn around. He’s closer’n I thought. My stupid heart skips a beat. He leans against the wall with his hands in his pockets.

The plethora of secondary characters really build to the novel and develop Saba as a character because of her multiple settings she picks up new people along the way. Across all of this, I like how Young builds up the character basis gradually and she doesn’t bombard us with them all at the start. In fact we start with very few characters with Lugh, Emmi, Saba and their father. By the end we have many, many characters we have met from Proctor John, Mercy, Ash, Epona, Helen, Mrs Pinch, Ike, Tommo, DeMalo and just keeps on going and I loved the layers that Young added to the novel with all these characters. And she doesn’t leave us without a little bit of heartbreak, so I warn you, tissues may be needed because indeed Blood Red Road is plenty bloody!

The biggest problem I probably have with Blood Red Road is the lack of knowledge about the world. Why is it in this state? What happened? Why is everything dustlands? Why is the mystery? Since this is only the first novel in what I believe to be a trilogy, I hope Young will go on to answer my questions that give actual depth to the setting of Blood Red Road. However, I think for a first novel she has sufficiently  set the environment and has got me hooked enough that I am dying to get my hands on the next book in the series!

Overall, I really enjoyed the novel and found that I’ll be eager to get my hands on a copy. I’ll be interested to see more of Lugh, the twin brother that Saba definitely placed on a pedestal in this novel because obviously he occurred very little in this one and I’ll be looking out for the development between Saba and Jack. I think Young has a fantastic idea going and I’m excited to read more from her in her unique style and bravery to not shy away from brutality of the world.

4 books

Extra Nerdy

Moria Young originally developed Blood Red Road when thinking about climate change, the limited resources of our environment and the change in human civilizations. She planned to set the world in an ice district and still in the future, however the only remains of that novel are the futuristic setting and the names, Saba, Lugh and Emmi so we can certainly see she’s come an awful long way! And one of her biggest influences being one of my favourite musical films, The Wizard of Oz. How awesome?! More information about the origins can be found here.

19 Comments

Filed under 2011 Publication, 4 Books, Dystopia, Moira Young, Paperback, Romance, Scholastic, Young Adult

A Thousand Bayonets

A Thousand Bayonets

A Thousand Bayonets by Joel Mark Harris

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Adult

Publication: August 18th 2011 by iUniverse.com

Upon returning from Afghanistan, journalist John Webster discovers a gang war in his backyard. Now he must find a way to survive in this Canadian warzone-or die in the crossfire.

John Webster has seen the terrible things human beings can do. He’s an experienced investigative journalist, recently returned from the war in Afghanistan. John saw hell over there; he looked death straight in the face. He is glad to be back to the normalcy of his Canadian home-that is, until he realizes there is a war brewing in his own backyard, and “peace” is a word no longer spoken.

John gets caught up in the battle between two of the most powerful and murderous criminal gangs in the city. Using what he learned on the foreign battlefields, he stays alive, despite the price on his head. The only way to save his own life is to find the man responsible for the brutal neighborhood bloodshed. When the police slap a subpoena on him, though, John finds his only solace on the streets.

Suddenly, John is back in a warzone, fighting for his life. Will he be able to stop the bloodthirsty crime lords? The flashbacks to Afghanistan threaten to pull John into darkness. Soon, the past and present collide, and he can’t tell which way is up or down. The need for redemption may be stronger than the need for survival as John Webster finds himself on his most dangerous assignment yet.

My Review:

This book was a pleasant surprise. From the first moment I was immersed in the suspense, action and heart-clenching pace of this novel really excelled. I have to admit I was a little wary when I got asked to review this novel because I thought “Is this going to be my thing?” and it might not be my usual genre, but it was brilliant! Unpredictable and engaging; I literally couldn’t put this book down even on my holiday. Not really a cheery holiday read, but certainly a realistic and emotive book.

John Webster was a very strange character. I never fully got to grips with him as a character and his personality. He seemed rather withdrawn from society and whilst I didn’t connect with him entirely I think it wasn’t needed for this type of story. From the outside you could take him in and really find frustration with his situation and character and get carried along with the direction of the story without the need for the connection. His character was flawed and he was frustrating and you wanted to knock his head against a brick wall, but that kept the suspense and anticipation throughout the novel that made ‘A Thousand Bayonets’ thrilling.

We had some really nice descriptions that weren’t over the top and they really helped to build the background and create some nice visuals for reading. I liked this one in particular because of it’s references to books.

“He had a wall-to-wall bookcase behind his desk. The bookcase was filled with classics written by Dickens, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky, and textbooks he used to teach his Friday morning class at the University of British Columbia.”

There was even a little bit of romance in this book which was bizarre and I didn’t know entirely which direction I was going with it because there was so many different routes, but I think that makes the reality of this novel so stark because it wasn’t perfect and it was riddled with imperfections. I mean, Webster had a shot at two women and his ex-wife was muddled into things with constant appearances and I’m not really sure how I felt about her. The romance was unconventional and ultimately it just highlighted a futility to John’s life because of how it didn’t seem to work and it never truly evolved, but it played an interesting aspect to the novel.

Sometimes I think reading is great for escapism, but sometimes to contrast this delving into the darkest pits of reality and really uncovering something that potentially exists and we are ignorant to is so horrific that it’s thrilling is something  this novel gives you.

Webster focuses a lot on his past and he’s certainly messed up individual from his time as a journalist in Afghanistan. Harris really does a brilliant job of showing the horror and psychological impact of it all and its not nice to read, but it’s engrossing in a horrible kind of way.

“Suddenly the boy burst into flames. He dropped to his knees, writhing in pain, unable to extinguish the fire. And John was still unable to move, unable to help the boy. The only thing he could do was watch as the boy burned to death.”

I think my only issue was at the start when I didn’t know John Weber very well was converting from Weber to John to describe him as the protagonist and this confused me because I thought they were two different people and the consistency of one title could have been done with to start with, especially when I didn’t realise his full name.

‘A Thousand Bayonets’ for me is hard to summarise because on the most basic level it’s a brutal novel about the destructive nature of mankind and how cruel people can be when sinking to gain personally and manipulation and deceit that occurs in the world. Ultimately it becomes an intricately told novel with different threads weaving through it about characters motives, police corruption, relationships, family and the mystery and suspense that are built from this is definitely superb. A cracking novel.

So you don’t miss your chance to read this novel, enter HERE to win a chance of getting 1 of 10 signed copies of ‘A Thousand Bayonets’ from the author and open internationally because I promise you it won’t let you down! I’m hosting this giveaway along with Matt from Genius Book Reviews who introduced me to Joel, so I have to give him a big shout out and suggest you hop over to check out his world of fantastic, fantasy reviews!

4 books

Fulfil the inner nerd and find out more here:

3 Comments

Filed under 2011 Publication, 4 Books, Adult, E-book, iuniverse, Joel Mark Harris, Mystery, Thriller

Unnatural Law

Unnatural Law Darwin's Children 2

Unnatural Law by Natasha Larry

Genre: Fantasy, Young-Adult, Romance

Series: Darwin’s Children #2

Published: October 26th 2011 by Penumbra Publishing

Seventeen-year-old Jaycie Lerner’s psycho-kinetic power surge is over, and her astounding powers are under control for the time being – sort of. As she struggles to maintain her humanity in the face of the awesome terror and responsibility of her abilities, she also yearns for the chance at a normal life – and a relationship with Matt Carter, the best friend she had to leave behind. But Matt’s got a few tricks up his sleeve, and he’s not about to give up on his feelings for Jaycie.
As Jaycie and her family grapple with the day-to-day routine of trying to keep their world together, Jaycie’s mother figure, Allison Young, endures a personal crisis of her own. The superhuman blonde possesses the physical equivalent of Jaycie’s awesome psychic power.

So evolved, at ninety-two she still looks twenty. But what good is extended life when everyone else around her is so fragile? With no one to share her unusual life, she’s a uniquely lonely woman yearning for the romantic love she sees all around her. But in a dream she gets her wish – and it quickly turns to a nightmare for everyone else in her life. The memory of a rose is all she can hold onto in the storm of obsession that nearly sweeps her away.
Things quickly turn deadly for the vampires, but the Dey-Vah Guard fairies refuse to acknowledge there’s an imbalance in the nature they protect. As the danger gets ever closer to Jaycie and her family, the race is on to find answers before a secret plot can destroy them all.

My Review:

Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as the first. That wasn’t to say it’s a bad novel because there are lots of good aspects, particularly the plot. I just found the character foundations dissolved and the characters themselves became more childish and verged into the unbelievable whilst they were meant to be maturing. At first I really enjoyed the impact of the opening of the novel and I thought we were really going to get a dark, exciting story.

“If no one got there fast enough, the being created to protect her was going to snap her neck.”

From here things changed direction. The dark direction wasn’t really taken and I guess my disappointment seeped into my enjoyment of the novel.

We followed on largely where the last book left off with a little bit of a time skip and some new revelations. However, it wasn’t hard to fit back into this book. The prologue is a jump ahead of time, but it doesn’t really seem to fit with the rest of the story really. It misguides you in all honesty and whilst it makes for an interesting read, I didn’t quite like the delusion at the start to the different ending. The plot is rather good and there are lots of different paranormal elements with fairies, ghosts and vampires, so for all those paranormal fans out there, it certainly has lots to offer. It did fall into my predictability trap with what I assumed was happening. I don’t know whether I’m just getting good with my guesses or the story was actually predictable, but I felt like there could have been a bit more of a surprise for us by the end.

The plot focuses on Jaycie struggling to deal with her powers and imminent threat of the Dey-Vah Guard who are supposed to protect her family. The balancing act of power between the two and the development of their relationship and power roles by the end certainly lead for an intruiging premise and really helped to pace the novel to draw you in as a reader. I never thought the novel was dull nor was it boring, I just felt a little out of tune with events at time to the realism which was of a greater problem. Jaycie may be the protagonist, but we particularly focus on her mother figure Alison and her loneliness, but I think her character was rather underdeveloped to take such a huge role. I felt in the first novel she was much more fleshed out and that Alison became a little weak in the second novel.

Like I stated the characters were not at all how they’d been in the first novel. The only character I really liked was Jaycie’s friend Hayley. Jaycie didn’t grow on me again and as the female protagonist this lack of connection and dislike for the main character really hindered my enjoyment off the story. I think my particular problem is that Jaycie never really gets just her story, in the first book she is overshadowed by Hayley and in the second Alison takes the central role and Jaycie is just the background protagonist almost, there is never a particular storyline that focuses on her, it’s others that have to be endangered for her to be used almost as the figure to revolve around rather than an independent protagonist. Her overuse of the phrase…

“Christ on a cracker!”

…really grated on my nerves. She must have used it a dozen times in one chapter. Personally, I just hate overused phrases.

Her character seemed to dissolve a little bit more after that and she became really childish and just ploughed ahead and did all these stupid things. Some of it is laid down to elements of her power, but it didn’t seem plausible enough to me and maybe I held onto rational mind with this one, but I think you really have to transcend reality if you want to understand Jaycie and maybe be a little younger. Not only that, she just didn’t feel and act like a 17 year old girl to me and this distanced me from liking her. Particularly her reactions and actions around her boyfriend.

“Hmmm. Coming over to hang out with you?”

Jayice smiled hugely. “Yay!”

Matt’s deep laugh vibrated in her ear. “Okay, babe. I’ll be right over.”

Having said that I didn’t particularly like their relationship they did have some cute moments and romance fans will appreciate their relationship. Matt was particularly overprotective, but he did work to save her in an intellectual way rather than run around trying to be Mr. Muscle and I like Larry’s take on the alternative method of a hero who doesn’t have to be all brawn. He was an intellectual character who seemed more central and down to earth, rather like Hayley. I think those two characters had greater substance to anybody else who surrounded Jaycie or Jaycie herself who all seemed less thought out and more ungrounded.

Matt sighed and opened his eyes.

“Alright, get out before I tie you up in my closet!”

I particularly liked the ghost element of this story and the character who connected with the ghosts. He forms a friendship with Jaycie which was the only reason I found to like her in the fact that she connected and learned to understand him. The ghosts don’t have an huge role in the novel, but their presence is important and I enjoy the little details Larry goes to.

The secondary characters of the story are lacking a little and I think after reading several books that have strong secondary characters, it makes for a less exciting read. Matt and Hayley are without a doubt the strongest characters in the book for me, but I don’t really feel like enough about them is known. There still seems to be something missing and whilst Larry has such a good plot and premise, her characters seemed to be the real issue I have with her novels.

Overall I didn’t enjoy ‘Unnatural Law’ as much as ‘Darwin’s Children’, and my review for that can be found here but I can equally say Larry has continued with a strong novel that sets a nice addition to the paranormal and fantasy world.

3 books

To fulfil the inner Nerd, you can find out more here:

4 Comments

Filed under 2011 Publication, 3 Books, E-book, Fantasy, Natasha Larry, Penumbra Publishing, Romance, Young Adult

Beautiful Disaster

Beautiful Disaster

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Published: May 26th 2011 by Simon & Schuster UK

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

My Review:

Despite some of the negative reviews this book has got, and despite all of the problems there are with this book, when I first started reading I really thought I was going to fall in love and find this book a guilty pleasure. I devoured the first 40% and I could put aside the little issues and the character behaviour, but from about 60% this book became painful to read. I didn’t want it to be and I really tried to get back into in, but unfortunately it lost all of my attention and all the “good” things I saw in it vanished. Nevertheless I can understand why this book has so many raving reviews, but on the other hand I can see why it is surrounded by so many negative perceptions. However, something I will say is the character behaviour, the unhealthy state of Abby and Travis’ relationship and the sex in this book really should push it out of the young-adult bracket. Seriously, why you you class such a book as young-adult when it reminds me of Fifty Shades of Grey without the bondage lifestyle.

Let’s just start with what I didn’t like. I was a few chapters in and I saw this..

I looked down to my plate, letting the long strands of my caramel hair create a curtain between us.

Oh dear. These were my thoughts “TWILIGHT REPEATED”. Thankfully, McGuire steers us away from a recreation of Twilight with Abby’s behaviour and at moments I found myself really liking Abby. Those moments were few and far between and mostly occurred at the start where she wore her cardigans and seemed nice. Later into the novel she allowed herself to be trampled upon my Travis and her father and as a female protagonist I did not appreciate the male domination that presided over her. Abby seemed to be struggling to define herself as a character and she never seemed to stay true to herself. Particularly her love for cardigans. I thought “oooh this sounds interesting” and then she seemed to forget all about her cardigans throughout the main section of the novel. Surely if McGuire puts the effort in to make it stand out in her synopsis, she should continue the theme? This was only one of the things that frustrated me about Abby. Along with her freak outs about her past and her father. It seemed overly emphasised into something really sinister and dark and when it was revealed, it was a huge let down in my eyes. Everything was a little simplistic and with these type of novels, I tend to enjoy something more complex to engage my attention and really drive the novel forwards.

Now there is Travis who I didn’t find any real redeeming point at all. He seems smart, but he doesn’t behave like it. He pushes Abby past tonnes of boundaries, forcing her to move into his apartment by a bet, moving into personal space and controlling her. Then he also lashes out with girls, drinking and fighting becoming more than a “bad boy” but somebody with an unhealthy state of mind. For me, there was no progression in Travis’ character and he had an extreme emotional balance scale that quite often left me on edge to which end he’d be at next. His possession over Abby bordered on crazed and disturbing and it really didn’t send Abby in the opposite direction when I think it should have.

Then say that you belong to me.

The relationship between Travis and Abby really annoyed me. There were forever on and off and not being able to work and being able to work and there was no real need. It became too repetitive and Abby kept pushing Travis away all the time and I wish she’d just settled down then I think I would have been able to get along with this novel more.

Another problem I had with this novel is that the scene changes were very jumpy and everything seemed very thrown together. I felt like not enough time had been spent editing and making the flow of the story seamless because I felt like I was blinking across time-frames and destinations. The trip to Vegas back and forth they were in their apartment and then there. It was really hard to adjust to.

On the other hand, this novel did grip me from the first moment. I really wanted to read on and I found myself staying up to keep reading and I felt that we had a lot to offer from the first moment with an intriguing mystery and a good direction. The plot faults were there, but with the cat and mouse act and the real energy that was delivered into the first half, I thought this book could have been a four star book with a few minor faults, but unfortunately McGuire seemed incapable of upholding the standard of the first half of this novel and I feel like much less attention had been devoted to the second.

There is very little description to the surroundings and the environment that the characters originate in, so whilst it may be set in a college, sometimes I think from describing a college room or the smells really draws you more into the novel and I think Beautiful Disaster could have really been boosted from such additions.

The novel is very much driven by it’s characters that lack real foundations and had some very big plot holes that you could jump through if you were a 30stone sumo. I wouldn’t dismiss this novel because it has so many people in love with it, but I’d say there are so many far better guilty pleasures out there to appreciate and you don’t need a book like this to use. I’d say that if you want a book like this, that’s young-adult and really could, pick up Pushing the Limits because it has been one of my favourite books of the year!

2 books

More stalking available here:

Let me know what you think!

13 Comments

Filed under 2 Books, 2011 Publication, Adult, Contemporary, E-book, Jamie McGuire, Romance, Simon and Schuster

Darwin’s Children

Darwin's Children 1

Title: Darwin’s Children

Author: Natasha Larry

Series: Darwin’s Children #1

Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Publication: June 8th 2011 by Penumbra Publishing

Plot:

Life can get pretty complicated for any seventeen-year-old girl, but for a home-schooled telepathic black girl trying to survive in a prestigious private school in small-town Jonesborough, Tennessee, it can be maddening; especially when her telepathic father keeps eavesdropping on her thoughts!
Jaycie Lerner’s family isn’t the usual mom-dad-kid setup. Jaycie’s mom is MIA, but Allison, her personal live-in trainer, is more than a mom, with her own special abilities, like being able to lift cars and run incredibly fast. And Jaycie’s godfather John is more than persuasive; he can literally convince anyone to do anything.
As far as the rest of the world’s concerned, Jaycie’s on the outside looking in. The townsfolk love Jaycie’s paediatrician father, but she doesn’t fit in with “normal” kids, and she doesn’t really want to. Most of her free time is spent training to keep her telekinetic and telepathic powers under control. But there’s one thing she can’t control; and that’s her feelings, especially when her best friend Matt is nearby. If only he knew what she was truly capable of…
Everything seems to be status quo for Jaycie until she receives a cryptic message from a stranger and meets a very unusual girl new to Jonesborough. Then all hell breaks loose!

Review:

We’ll start with the cover, to me it looks and feels old, which is a little bit a reflection of the novel for me personal. I felt like the whole novel was set back in the 90’s with the setting and the characters and the way they acted. It felt like a very dated novel for a recently published young-adult novel. I think the cover reflects the novel itself well, it captures the essence of magic and oldness that the story has a lot of. The main character is not how I’d imagined her, she seems to feisty for me and wild. Jaycie seemed more childish and vulnerable in the story. However I have seen alternate covers that seem to fall a little more into the modern genre and I know covers aren’t down to authors, I still think it’s something to consider when reflecting upon the novel.

Overall, I thought the book was okay. It definitely has an intriguing premise, so when I was asked by the author to review this book, I was immediately excited to start reading. I think the story pace was smooth, but nothing that sparked a burning desire in me to keep turning the pages. I felt the story lacked the take-off that I was expecting. Whilst it had a good plot and a sturdy base, I felt like Larry could have expanded so much further and she just didn’t. For me, there were quite a few failed opportunities in here.

The main character Jaycie annoyed me an awful lot. She was meant to be a 17 year old girl and she behaved like a five year old for most of the story. Admittedly she was aware of this petulant trait, but there were other instances where her father of trainer Allison would put her to bed. I’m sorry, but for me a 16/17 year old girl would never easily acquiesce to being put to bed by her father even if she was asleep. It just didn’t fit with modern society for me. She also seemed a little bit weak and vulnerable. She pretended to be all out front and unbothered by people, but it seemed to be a front. She ignored her boyfriend for weeks, fell into depression over her only friend yet she was stereotyped as the pretty cheerleader material. It may be stereotyping, but her character seemed to have a lot of faults because whilst she tried to be a kick-ass heroine at times, her father was always there stepping in or Allison and it ruined it for me. I like to see a protagonist take control of her story, not be pushed around by her senior figures. I didn’t see enough of her trying to break out of restraining parental hold or even pushing towards spending time with her boyfriend.

The romance isn’t an insta-love because the two characters Jaycie and Matt have had a friendship for a long time, but suddenly they just start becoming a thing and there is very little discussion about this or talk about a relationship status. Matt also seems to accept that Jaycie won’t see or speak to him for weeks at a time and I found it a little bit odd for a teenage couple playing love interests. Whilst it might have been refreshing from the insta-love and sickly love triangles we are getting more and more often in contemporary young-adult novels, I just lacked the spark between the couple. It seemed to fizzle out for me.

However, despite my negatives, I really loved Haylee’s character and her story. Jaycie despite her problems played a great friend for Haylee and brought her from her shell. I found the way in which the friendship developed to be an interesting one because it wasn’t a friendship of norm. The way in which Jaycie’s family unit worked was also endearing.

The plot overall is good and I found there was always a new moment to engage you. I think with the plot you can certainly target a wide audience in the young-adult genre because we touch on vampires, angels who are divided into two sub-sections Larry explains about and many more different creatures we are yet to find out about. These all fit in with Jaycie and her family and the paranormal world. We certainly have lots of paranormal and magical elements to Darwin’s Children that makes the story.

The title has no explicit link to the story in general, but the subtlety of the evolution and survival of the fittest becomes more apparent throughout the story. I certainly learned to appreciate the story title. The chapter titles in general provide sufficient coverage of the chapter without becoming too obvious and giving away the plot which is always helpful.

I have to admit, my favourite part about the story was the ending, despite it being a seemingly random finish, it eluded to more depth to the paranormal aspect and Jaycie’s family which I’ll be excited to read about. I’ll definitely be continuing with the next book in the series because I think Larry has a lot of offer us and lots of places to take us. Whilst I don’t think the book was perfect and the characters had a lot of faults for me, Larry does a great job of setting up a new and different young-adult novel that is certainly different from most of the contemporary young-adult novels out there.

If you’re looking for something different, I suggest picking up Darwin’s children because it’s a pleasant read at about 280 pages.

*This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for a honest, free review*

My Rating:

3 books

More stalking available here:

Let me know what you think!

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011 Publication, 3 Books, E-book, Fantasy, Natasha Larry, Penumbra Publishing, Romance, Young Adult

The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale

The Twisted Tale of Stormy GaleTitle: The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale

Author: Christine Bell

Series: Stormy Gale #1

Genre: Steampunk, Historical-Fiction, Adult, Romance

Published: April 2011 by Carina Press

Plot: I’m a time pirate—born in 1810, now a 21st-century woman. I travel through time trying to right wrongs without disrupting the fragile balance between what is and what can never be.
That’s why it’s vital that I go to 1836 and find the man who conned my brother out of his Time Travel Mechanism as quickly as possible. If the technology falls into the wrong hands, it could change the world as we know it. The notorious Duke of Leister definitely qualifies as the wrong hands. An amateur scientist of the slightly mad variety, he’s bound to figure out how to use the TTM sooner rather than later.
I knew this wouldn’t be easy. But I wasn’t counting on him being as sexy as hell. Or winding up chained to his bed…

Review: I thoroughly enjoyed reading this short story.

First we’ll start with the two problems I had.

One was the length, I felt it was too short to really get into the story and enjoy the creative characters and depth that was just on the verge of being accomplished, but was then brushed over too quickly for my liking. I feel this book would have been utterly mind-blowing if the author had just taken the time to describe the situation a little more and elongate the ending. Normally some books over-do the ending by dragging it out, but this was not enough for me to wrap everything up so quickly in a short, quick, couple of pages. This just didn’t work for me.

Secondly, the background detail to the time and characters for this story to be ‘Steampunk’ or even historical fiction was sorely lacking. This frustrated me because I wanted to know where Stormy came from, not just London and a street urchin. I wanted the full gory past with all the horrors and hardship. I wanted to feel like I’d been transported to 1836 to witness the time and feeling. It just lacked in that department a lot for me. I still got the idea of time and setting, but I felt like the author teased us with the idea and failed to offer all that she had promised.

Despite this, the book filled in on the romance, which is surprisingly different to what I expected. From reading the blurb it appears to be a ‘kinky’ kind of book, but in fact, it’s nothing of the sort. If you’re looking for kink, don’t delude yourself by reading this in hopes of finding it. However, if you’re looking for a touching romance with ups and downs of the human mind conflicting.

I came to adore the ‘Loony Duke’ because he’s not all that he appears to be. I only wish we’d had more time to get to know him. His character entirely not what I expected and he had a very emotional and touching side to him that I grew to adore and cherish. He was smart and witty, and certainly not one to be trifled with. I’m excited to hear that he will be present in the sequel to this novel.

Overall I felt this book had a lot to offer in the context of escaping an hour or two in reading. It lacked in certain departments, but I can only hope the sequel will follow through on even more excitement!

Rating:

More stalking available here:

Let me know what you think!

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011 Publication, 4 Books, Adult, Carina Press, Christine Bell, E-book, Historical Fiction, Romance, Science-Fiction, Steampunk

Avenger’s Angel

Avenger's AngelTitle: Avenger’s Angel

Author: Heather Killough-Walden

Series: The Lost Angels #1

Genre: Paranormal-Romance, Angels, Adult

Released: 2011 by Headline

Plot: After an eternity spent walking the earth in search of their lost soul mates, four archangels are about to learn that finding their archesses is only the first harrowing step to claiming their souls. When Uriel, the Angel of Vengence, catches sight of Eleanore Granger he is stunned. He and his brothers have searched for centuries for the elusive archesses made for them by the Old Man and, recognizing Ellie as his, Uriel, immediately wages a war of seduction to capture her heart. Beautiful Ellie has spent her life on the run, hiding inexplicable powers others would kill to possess. She cannot deny her attraction to the extraordinarily handsome man with piercing green eyes but can she trust him? As passion consumes Uriel and Ellie, outside forces just as powerful as the archangels themselves array against them. If they are to realized the love that is their destiny, Uriel and Ellie must fight to the death against those who would tear them apart …

Review: Personally, I found rating this book difficult. Parts of it were brilliant and other parts I felt lacked the intensity and excitement it promised.

Ellie was a character I didn’t really connect with, which was probably the main problem of the book for me. Her character was very absorbed with helping other people and as much as this is an admirable trait, I felt it was overly emphasised. Not until the end did she seem to centre herself on the person who was the ‘other-half’ of her soul, Uriel. She placed all the characters in danger and herself too much, by healing people in the middle of the street. This was the main confusion point for me, since she always talked about staying away from the centre of attention and worrying over these matters, it seemed irresponsible and a contradiction to her character to throw herself into that turmoil. However, by the end she’d reached a reasonably, redeemable level with me because of her participation and defiance she showed as a strong character. Despite her being a strong female lead, she swooned too much for me over the ‘hot’ angels in the story and allowed herself to be side-tracked from her strong female lead. In parts she showed great potential at being a feisty heroine when she used her own powers to battle, but then she flopped with her swooning between Uriel and Samael, when the end seemed rather inevitable.

Uriel was a character I liked a lot by the end. At the start he seemed rather to up-front and arrogant, by the end he’d fallen to a reasonable level of arrogance balanced with redemption over actually thinking before he acted. This was something all the characters except Samael failed to achieve, thinking. Uriel had a very dominant personality that I loved, and it added to the intensity in the centre of the novel that really increased the romance.

A redeeming quality for me about the novel was although the romance was a leading plot line, it didn’t centre on being overly explicit or fluffy with the romance. It was balanced well with the action and sub-plot lines. The internal dialogue and conflict did play a large part of the novel, which could have probably been reduced in areas, however it added to the feel of getting into the characters heads and understanding their predicaments.

Despite the problems I found with the book, I fell in love with Samael’s character. However he is poised as the ‘villain’ of the story, along with several others and this made me feel rather uncomfortable that he grew so much upon me. I’m not entirely sure if this is intentional on the author’s part or merely an error on her part. I’m assuming it was intentionally and I hope to see further plot development on his character because despite the other novels, which I assume will show the tales of the other three brothers, Samael has a story to tell that I will be excited to read.

The book certainly had a religious context that surrounded it, but it wasn’t explicitly emphasising religion, rather the history and beliefs of angels and God’s decisions and angels he’s made. It made for an interesting read because I thoroughly enjoy different interpretations of angels and archangels.

The book certainly made me turn the pages, and I think the book finished in a respectable place that prevented it from being overly long. Overall a read that I enjoyed and would recommend to fans of the angel genre.

Rating:

More stalking available:

Let me know what you think!

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011 Publication, 4 Books, Adult, Headline, Heather Killough-Walden, Paperback, Paranormal Romance