Book Review: Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins

Title: Temptation (Temptation #1)
Author: Karen Ann Hopkins
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction 
Publisher: Harlequin Teen 
Publication Date: June 2012 (I received this book as a digital ARC from NetGalley); released in Australia in August.
Pages: 380
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Your heart misleads you. 

That’s what my friends and family say.

But I love Noah.
And he loves me. 

We met and fell in love in the sleepy farming community of Meadowview, while we rode our horses together through the grassy fields and in those moments in each other’s arms.

It should be
forever, easy.

But it won’t be.

Because he’s Amish.

And I’m not.

My Review:

I have to admit that I don’t know very much about the Amish lifestyle. In fact – pretty much everything I know could be summed up from watching the Tim Allen movie, For Richer or Poorer. But it’s a culture that’s fascinated me for a long time.

This novel is the story of Noah, the perfect Amish son, and Rose, a modern dancer and avid horse rider who has recently lost her mother to cancer. It’s love at first sight. But the culture divide between the two teens threatens to tear them apart forever.

I wasn’t prepared for just how caught up I would get in Noah and Rose’s story. Usually love at first sight isn’t my thing but I adored the two of them. Rose confident of her place in the world and has her father wrapped around her little finger. Noah has no idea what he’s getting himself into. All he’s ever wanted is to find himself a nice Amish wife, be involved in their community and continue living as his people have for hundreds of years. It’s a simple life but it’s all he knows and all he’s ever desired. Until he meets Rose. And then his world is turned up on its head.

The point-of-view is switched each chapter, first Rose then Noah telling their version of events. I liked how there’s not much repetition. Each chapter picks up where the other left off. I loved reading Rose’s version of events. I thought the author completely captured the emotions and feelings of a sixteen year old going though the ups and downs of being in love for the first time. I didn’t enjoy reading Noah’s POV quite as much. I didn’t feel like there was enough personality change between the two. I thought that Noah felt a little too modern in his thoughts. But then again – maybe I’m just showing my naivety towards the Amish community.

I was thrilled to see that this is the first in a series – there is so much more to Noah and Rose’s relationship that needs to develop and I’m glad that there is a chance for readers to once again be witnesses to what happens next.

This is a beautiful story about first love and different cultures. I recommend it for anyone who likes sweet romances about star-crossed lovers.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Teen Suicide
Publisher: Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: October 2007
Pages: 288
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

My Review:

I was blown away when I started this novel. I wasn’t expecting Hannah to be so angry. But she is. And she’s going to make sure that the people who she blames for ruining her life and contribute to the reasons why she ended her own life know it.

And as a reader of this book I now know it too. Each chapter, each side of the tapes, gives new information, a new story as to just why Hannah is so angry and upset with her circumstances.

One of the biggest messages I got from this book was regarding reputation and how powerfully it can effect a person’s entire view of themselves. Hannah’s was widely exaggerated – and in many ways just plain untrue – but none the less the way that other’s viewed her and treated her as rumours of her sexual experience and other exploits made their way around the school and the town shaped how Hannah thought of herself.

The layout of this book was clever and a brilliant way to set out the novel. The chapters are presented as sides to the tape – each side another story – and in between paragraphs little play, pause or stop symbols were used to show whether or not Clay was listening to Hannah’s narration or trying to figure things out for himself.

Whilst I enjoyed reading this book and couldn’t help but devour the entire novel in a matter of hours, I fundamentally disagree with some events (like the end) and the whole concept in the first place. By that I mean that whilst I understand why Hannah made and sent the tapes, I feel like no matter what she needed to take responsibility for her own actions rather than blaming others. It’s horrible what happened and that she felt like she had no other choices. But ultimately, she’s the one who ended her life. Not anyone else whose names appear on the tapes. I actually felt a little sick too at the reason why Clay got them. Because receiving a package like that – it’s life changing in many ways, none of them good – and by sending them out I felt like she’s ruining the recipients lives in a way that was as bad or even worse than the reasons why she’s sending them out. And now I wonder if Hannah would say that I’m as bad as anyone who was in her class that day when she asked the question…

I can understand why this book was a New York Times best-seller. It’s heartbreaking and so very sad – I got quite emotional whilst reading it and started tearing up.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 

Book Review: Confessions of a Vampire’s Girlfriend by Katie Maxwell

Title: Confessions of a Vampire’s Girlfriend (Ben and Fran #1-2)
Author: Katie Maxwell (aka. Katie MacAlister)
Genre: paranormal romance, vampires, witches, demons, ghosts, contemporary
Publisher: NAL Trade (an imprint of Penguin) 
Publication Date: November 2010
Pages: 355
Rating: 4stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Meet Francesca. She’s in Europe, working in a
traveling faire along with psychics, magicians, and
other really bizarre people. Her life? Not-so-normal.
Her boyfriend, Ben? Not-so-alive. And in these two
novels, it’s up to Francesca to redeem his soul, find
something to wear on their very first date, deal with
her emerging psychic talent, and shake the warring
Viking ghosts she accidentally conjured.

My Review:

I’m a Katie MacAlister fan – her Dark Ones series is one of the first adult paranormal romance series I ever read. So when I found out that she had written a young adult novel set in the same world as her Dark Ones series, I was thrilled.

After being forced to accompany her mother to a European travelling psychic festival for a year, Fran is less than impressed. Until she comes face to face with Ben – a Moravian Dark One, also know as a vampire,  who claims that she is his Beloved and the only one who can save his soul. A little bit insane perhaps but who is Fran to talk – she has her own odd little quirk and can tell the history of an item just by touching it.

From  vampires and magical horses to demons and ghosts – this book really does cover a large range of the supernatural spectrum. The best part? Humour is involved at every turn. I was reading this book a few weeks ago when I was on a road trip with my sister… she didn’t appreciate my breaking out into laughter and giggles when she was trying to drive. Maybe I should have gotten an audio book so she could have enjoyed the story along with me.

This book is two smaller books (Got Fangs? and Circus of the Damned) in the same collection. The first one did a great job at setting the scene – Fran meeting Ben, introducing the rest of the Faire workers and having a bit of a mystery to tie it all together. But the second book was the one that made my day. I loved it. Fran was really coming into her own with regards to her abilities and her relationship with Ben was starting to move forward.

But what made me enjoy the book even more was the new characters – the Norse Warrior ghosts whom Fran accidentally summoned and was now responsible for their safe passage to Valhalla. They made me smile so hard I thought my face might crack in two. These are characters who consider nothing wrong with pillaging a local McDonalds so they can acquire Big Macs and then sacrifice the burgers in honour of the god, Loki.

I thought Fran was a fantastic heroine – sulky and sullen at the start but she begins to blossom into a strong and capable young woman. And Ben – gorgeous and wise… but also with faults that only make me like him more. I also liked their relationship with each other. Whilst there is incredible instant attraction between the two leads, there’s none of that instalove that I can’t stand. Their relationship grows as the book progresses.

MacAlister has managed to perfectly capture the funny and romantic vibes of her other series and perfectly tuned into the teen voice.

Note: I’ve read the third Fran and Ben story (In the Company of Vampires  – Dark Ones #8) and really adore where MacAlister takes these characters as they grow a little older and see how their happily ever after really ends. It’s a little more adult and does contain sex and strong language so I’m not really recommending it if you’re a younger reader but I personally loved the third book in the series.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 

Book Review: Florence by Ciye Cho

Title: Florence
Author: Ciye Cho
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance 
Publisher: self published (I received an e-copy from the author)
Publication Date: July 2012 
Pages: 336
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.

Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand–and find out where she belongs–Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart… and her very soul.

My Review:

Florence Waverley is an outsider in her own world. Kids she’s been in the same class with for years still call her the new girl or the quiet one. After being abducted by a merman during a school field trip, Florence finds herself an outsider once more. A human among the merpeople of Niemela – a beautiful underwater world.

In this new world the ideas of work, order and purpose are the three things that Niemelans hold dearest to their hearts. Everyone has their place and is required to work for their society. Florence is out of her depth and has no role – except that for what she has been brought to Niemela for: to be the handsome Prince Kiren’s Familiar – a gift from his brother, the surly Prince Rolan, for Kiren’s coronation in a few days.

In this unfamiliar world where things appear to be perfect, Florence learns that there’s more to anything than meets the eye and that maybe you might be an outsider in your own world but can find yourself belonging in another.

I loved reading this beautiful story of mermaids and the incredible world of Niemela. The imagery was gorgeous. From the first descriptions of the underwater world, I felt like I could have been there along with Florence, experiencing the wonders with her. It was vibrant and the descriptions of everything from the scenery to the characters was in-depth and memorizing.

The world of Niemela was one that I enjoyed inhabiting whilst reading  Florence. In many ways it comes across as a Utopian society but as I was drawn further and further into the story I came to realize – much as Florence herself did – that not everything is as it seems on the surface.

The characters were fantastic. From King Iriego to the Wise Ones and everyone in between – I loved reading about all the inhabitants of the underwater city. Yolee was a fantastic best friend for Florence as she imersed herself in the Niemelian culture. My favourite characters were the two royal brothers: Rolan – the “Prince of Doom” who appeared to dislike and distrust the human, and Kiren – the younger prince on the verge of becoming a King but the cheekier of the two. I thought they were fantastic characters who could not have been more different. I liked how they interacted with each other, with the other citizens and also with Florence. Both so different and yet I found myself loving both.

I love good romance story and I loved how the romance played out during this novel. It’s not in your face – rather more subtle – and it felt perfectly natural for the story and it’s characters.

Ciye Cho has succeeded in creating a story and a world that is both beautiful and imaginative – who know there were that many uses for kelp? I recommend this story for anyone who lives reading about different worlds that are incredibly crafted  and descriptions that are vibrant and vivid.

This is the book’s trailer that I thought was fantastic.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Smashwords (ebook) / Buy the Book (from the Florence website)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Just HAD To Buy… but are still sitting on my bookshelf

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week is a freebie week which means I can choose any topic that from the past. I’ve decided to do the top ten books that I had to buy but are still waiting for me to read them…

I’m terrible at buying books. If I perceive that I’m getting a bargain then I’m at the register already pulling out my credit card. Internet shopping is even worse! So many books are so many great prices…

So here are just a few of the books I’ve bought a while ago and still haven’t started reading them.

1. The Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini

I bought a boxed set of the first three of these books. They’re absolutely gorgeous and after watching the film and enjoying it I couldn’t help myself but buy the books so I could see what happens next…

2. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

I adore Melina Marchetta’s books. And after reading all of her YA contemporary novels I knew I had to run out and sample her writing of a fantasy novel… so now it sits unread on my bookshelves…

3. The Year Nick McGowan Came to Stay by Rebecca Sparrow

My high school held a literature festival every year and when I was in year 12, Rebecca Sparrow was one of the authors that came. I have to admit that I was a bit in awe of her. She was a newspaper journalist and had just written her first book – The Girl Most Likely and she seemed so professional and like she had it all together. I bought her first book right away, read it overnight (luckily during the festival the teachers never set any homework as most people didn’t turn up to class for those few days) and returned to school the next day – tired but happy. I loved the book. It was funny. And I loved the characters.

The Year Nick McGowan Came to Stay came out a few years later but books weren’t a priority by then. I finally got my hands on a copy and was so excited… but haven’t gotten around to reading it…

4. Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

I love Vampires. I also love the show Gossip Girl.

This books sounds like it’s a little of both and hence the reason why I bought it. It didn’t hurt that it came in a boxed set with two other books that I wanted to read. So why is it sitting on my shelf collecting dust? I have no idea… but it’s probably got something to do with the main character’s name. Schuyler… I don’t even know how to properly pronounce that..

5. Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

I’ve heard so much about this one. So I couldn’t help myself but buy it. But then… invasion of the angels happened. It felt like every book I was reading was about an angel. There was only so much I could take and this book got shelved for another day.

6. Looking for Alaska by John Green

There are a lot of people I know who adore John Green and worship his books. I’ve never read one. So I decided it was about time that I jump in and experience his books for myself. “Which one should I read first?” I asked my friends who love John Green so much that they consider themselves to be fellow NerdFighters. I couldn’t get a straight answer. Apparently they are all amazing. So I bought Looking for Alaska because I found a copy for less than ten dollars.

And then – as often seems to happen with me – I got distracted. Probably by something shiny or by a books with vampires… Either way this is how I ended up with a copy that’s now just sitting and looking pretty on my bookshelves.

7. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I have a secret.

I don’t like Neil Gaiman books.

But I wanted to be the kind of person who does. So I bought Coraline in the hope that it will turn my previous experiences around and I too can be one of those people who adore his work.

Somehow, when it’s an author I either don’t like or am nervous to read for whatever reason, I just never seem to make the time to read their books… even when I’ve bought them… Onto the bookshelves with Coraline!

8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

I like knowing where pop-culture references come from. Mainly just so I know how to use the properly but also because when you read so much and watch so much TV and the you see the same thing so often – it sort of feels like if you haven’t experienced where the original story came from that you’re missing out.

It’s like that for me and Lord of the Flies. 

One day I’ll get around to reading it.. and when I do I won’t have to go far to find a copy. There’s one gracing the shelves of my bookcase.

9. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

This is probably the book that I’ve owned the longest and still haven’t read. My mother bought it for me back when I was in primary school. I was so excited.

Then I started reading it. And I couldn’t have been more bored. So I put it down somewhere and never picked it up again. Not even after watching the feature films and developing a somewhat severe crush on Aragorn…

But someday. Maybe I’ll try to tackle the Hobbit and the LOtR before the Hobbit part 1 comes out at the end of this year…

10. Watership Down by Richard Adams

With the exception of my brother, my family aren’t one that reads. And yet everyone except for me has read this book and loved it. So I bought a copy second-hand for less than a dollar and was all set to start reading it. Not sure why I never got there…

If I had to guess it’s probably because I’m slightly intimidated. I don’t want to be let down by it and if I don’t read it then it can never disappoint me. But that’s a bit silly and I just need to make some time to read it.

Rabbits are kind of awesome.

So there’s my list for the week 🙂

It’s the most typing I’ve done in three weeks… Family stuff and illness have gotten the best of me lately but I’m back and ready to post some more reviews and other bookish tidbits 🙂