Book Review: How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You by Tara Eglington

How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You (Aurora Skye #2)

Title: How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You (Aurora Skye #2)
Author: Tara Eglington
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 446
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The course of true love never did run smooth. For a girl who shares her name with a princess (a.k.a Aurora from Sleeping Beauty) Aurora Skye’s life seem fathoms away from a fairytale. Sure, she’s landed Hayden Paris, Potential Prince extraordinaire. And she got her wish — one first kiss with all the knee-trembling, butterfly-inducing gloriousness she’d hoped for.
But Aurora’s learning that a kiss is just the beginning of a story.
Instead of being the truly transcendent, utterly epic follow up it should be, her second attempt at kissing has literally landed Hayden Paris in the emergency room. If that’s not mortifying enough, the whole school is now referring to her as ‘Lethal Lips’.
Meanwhile it’s all systems go for her best friend Cassie – she and Potential Prince Scott are totally loved up and can’t stop kissing. Jelena (Jefferson High’s answer to Helen of Troy) has moved on from the heinous betrayal by Bad Boy Alex West and has unleashed her plan to rule the world by running for School Captain. Problem is Alex is running too and Jelena’s pulling out all the stops to prevent him from stealing her rightful place as ruler of Jefferson High – including offering Aurora’s Find a Prince/Princess Program as one of her campaign initiatives.
How is Aurora going to prove her program is foolproof and help Jelena win the election when her matchmaking manoeuvres seem to be throwing all the wrong people together – including the NAD and the hippy-dippy Ms Deforest — and she can’t even convince Hayden to kiss her?

My Review:

Aurora Skye is back and she is finding out that even after you have found your prince charming plenty of things can still go wrong. The magic after her first kiss with nemesis-turned-true-love and boy next door, Hayden Paris, starts to fade after their first date ends with a trip to the emergency room. And Aurora has more to worry about than her own romance. Jelena is running for school captain and she has roped Aurora into launching her Find a Prince/Princess program and finding the perfect match for her classmates. Aurora’s New Age Dad has his own relationship revelations and her flighty mother seems to bring drama wherever she goes. Life has never been busier for the young matchmaker.

This series is adorable. With How To Convince A Boy To Keep Kissing You, Tara Eglington has delivered a lovely read about a teen girl with authentic problems. Okay – so you’re probably not going to find a school in Australia where school captains promise their BFF will find them a prince nor school camps organized (and all permission slips signed and returned) in a day. But Aurora faces issues which are common to many people. Her parents are moving on in their relationships but she’s stuck in the middle of their decisions. Aurora’s friends have their own things going on and despite it all, Aurora is there for them as best as she can. And there’s Hayden. Despite considering herself a love and relationship guru, Aurora is learning that being part of a couple is not quite what she expected.

I like Aurora. She’s not trying to save the world but she is trying to be the best person she can be. With Keats’ “Love is My Religion” as her personal motto, Aurora believes that there is love out there for everyone. She uses the resources at hand to help her friends and family find the person that makes them happy – and somehow manages to keep up to date with school politics too. Her budding romance with Hayden is very sweet however is more in the background of this novel than it was in the first. I missed seeing him around but their scenes together were lovely to read and I love them as a couple.

In this book we get to see more of Aurora’s friends and it was great getting to see how their friendship dynamic evolve as they are all getting older and wiser to the word. Jelena’s plans of total school domination were amusing (if not entirely believable all the time) and I enjoyed how the race for school captain played out. Cassie and Lindsay have nice supporting roles too and I enjoyed reading the new characters that popped up in this novel as well.

Overall, this is a fun book to read. If you’re looking for something that is cute, contemporary with romance as a focus – this series is definitely for you. Although be warned: Reading this book had me reading Keats and watching Bright Star!

Thanks to Harper Collins Australia for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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Also by Tara Eglington:

How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You (Aurora Skye #1)

How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You (click here for my review)

Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)

Title: Allegiant (Divergent #3)
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 526
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

My Review:

You don’t believe things because they make your life better, you believe them because they’re true.

After the events of Insurgent, Tris needs some answers about the truth behind the faction-based society. Together with Four and others, Tris finds her way behind the fence to see if there is any genuine truth to the revelations about the life she’s always known. What she finds leaves many more questions and some dire decisions to be made.

I’d been anticipating Allegiant since the day I finished reading Insurgent. This trilogy has had its ups and downs with brilliant characters and a plot that I never could have predicted. Tris is a character that I admire greatly – she’s grown up so much since the first book and she is willing to take the hard road if it is for the greater good. The supporting cast is brilliant because they behave like real people each with their own agendas – as a reader we may never know just what they are up to but it’s clear that they have lives of their own and are not just in the story to interact with Tris.

This is a dual point-of-view novel with the narration switching between Tris and Four each chapter. With the first two books being solely being told by Tris this was an interesting decision to switch things up and whilst it did bring a new dynamic to the book I wasn’t the biggest fan. I liked getting to see events from Four’s perspective and find out things that Tris wasn’t privy to however I thought the voices were too similar and there were times when I was not quite sure which character I was reading about.

I enjoyed the action in this book. I am not sure what I was expecting but I know that the events of Allegiant are better than what I was anticipating. There’s a lot of action and a lot of twists and turns. There is more to people who meets the eye and Roth is not afraid to break a few hearts along the way. I’m impressed with how Roth decided to treat her characters and I think it was brave as an author to take the characters where she did.

Allegiant was a satisfying conclusion to a dramatic and exciting dystopian trilogy. If you have read and enjoyed the first two books I think you will be pleased with this instalment. I will definitely be checking out future books by Veronica Roth.

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Book Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)

Title: Unearthly (Unearthly #1)
Author: Cynthia Hand
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult, Angels
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: January 2011
Pages: 432
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Clara has known she was part-angel ever since she turned fourteen two years ago, but only now is her Purpose – the crucial rite of passage for every part-angel – becoming clear to her. Clara′s Purpose leads her family to Wyoming, where, amidst terrifying scenes of a bush inferno, she finds the boy of her visions, Christian. He is everything she could wish for – so why does she also have feelings for her enigmatic classmate Tucker?

Clara discovers that her Purpose is only a small part of a titanic struggle between angels and their destructive counterparts, the Black Wings. And when the fire of her visions erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?

My Review:

So often we only do what we think is expected of us, when we are capable of so much more.

As a part angel, Clara has a predestined mission. She doesn’t quite know what her Purpose is but knows that she must do everything in her power to save the boy in her visions – even if it means her family have to move across the country to a small town in the middle of nowhere. It’s there she finally finds the boy who haunts her – Christian. But despite finding him, her angelic mission is still unclear. As Clara adapts to life in the country, she finds new friends and some more about Angels and her kinds history. Black Wings – angels with a dark intentions, threaten Clara’s loved ones and her attraction for Tucker – a country boy with a lot of charm, endanger her from being able to save Christian and carry our her angelic Purpose.

Unearthly is a promising start to the series. Clara is likeable and independent with enough secrets  to keep things interesting. She has a good relationship with her mother and brother but it isn’t unrealistically perfect. She has disagreements and the occasional moment where she knowingly acts immature but that makes her just that much more authentic as teenager. Her angel ancestry is interesting – the visions, wings and all that go along with being a Quartarius (quarter angel) make for an entertaining read. I liked the way everything progressed as the story unfolded with some mysteries being revealed and more questions brought up.

For me one of the highlights in Unearthly is the romance. Not your average love triangle but Clara does find herself with feelings for two  very different boys. One is associated with her Purpose and the whole reason why she moved to the country and the other – a complete surprise. This is one of the few novels with a triangle where it’s not entirely apparent who the lead is going to pick until it happens.

I will definitely be reading the next book in the series (in fact I already have Hallowed (Unearthly #2) and Boundless (Unearthly #3) in my possession) because there are still many secrets and mysteries left for the reader to discover. I hope that the questions I have will be answered and I am excited to read more about Clara and her relationships with her friends and family.

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Book Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 2013 (first published March 2005)
Pages: 272
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

My Review:

“If people were rain I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

Miles Halter seeks to find his “Great Perhaps”. Deciding that he isn’t going to find it in Florida, he makes the decision to leave his family home and go to Culver Creek Boarding School, his dad’s alma mater, in Alabama. It’s there that Miles finds a nickname, a prank master room-mate and a girl named Alaska Young. She’s wonderful and terrible, together and yet falling apart and Miles can’t help but fall in love with her. Before Culver Creek everything was boring and mundane but that was before Alaska.

This is one of those books that I’ve heard a lot about and because of that I was a little intimidated but I quickly found myself engrossed in Miles’ story. I enjoy reading John Green’s style. His characters are quirky and enjoyable. Miles, the narrator, is bland in comparison to his new friends but has some eccentricities of his own. Reading biographies of famous authors but never reading their novels himself – I loved that. I found myself able to relate to him on many levels and liked his commentary about life at Culver Creek.

Alaska Young is a great love interest – especially considering she is not the typical leading lady. She’s bold and impulsive with a boyfriend she’s in love with and wouldn’t cheat on. Her enthusiasm for pranks and getting Miles a girlfriend is contagious. Her relationships with The Colonel, Miles. Takumi and Lara contrasted with each other nicely and by the end of the book I felt like I knew her well and not at all both at the same time.

I love books set in boarding schools and I did like the antics of the Weekday Warriors and other boarders at Culver Creek. Pranks, sports and contraband are all a part of day-to-day life at the school and they were all highlighted in a way that made me feel at home with them and made Miles’ experience at Culver Creek feel authentic.  The pacing was great with each section being preceded with days preceding and after. Taking place over Miles’ junior year of high school, it was spaced out and managed to include all those important American high school things – like midterms and Thanksgiving.

Looking for Alaska is a great read however it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Amazing characters – this is definitely a book that I liked for characters first, plot second and I had a great time living in Miles’ world with him whilst he searched for his “Great Perhaps”.

My Favourite Quotes:

“It always shocked me when I realized that I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought and felt such strange and awful things.” 

“Sometimes you lose a battle. But mischief always wins the war” 

“I just did some calculations and I’ve been able to determine that you’re full of shit.” 

“We were kissing.
I thought: This is good.
I thought: I am not bad at this kissing. Not bad at all.
I thought: I am clearly the greatest kisser in the history of the universe.
Suddenly she laughed and pulled away from me. She wiggled a hand out of her sleeping bag and wiped her face. “You slobbered on my nose,” she said, and laughed” 

 

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Book Review: Confessions of a Chalet Girl by Lorraine Wilson

Title: Confessions of a Chalet Girl
Author: Lorraine Wilson
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction 
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 27 June 2013 
Pages: 108
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Set in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Verbier, the winter playground of the rich and famous, Confessions of a Chalet Girl is a fun and flirty contemporary romance novella from the fabulous Lorraine Wilson.

The slopes seriously start to heat up when chalet girl Holly is propositioned by her sexy new boss!

My Review:

I love the idea of chalet girls. Maybe I have a bit of a romanticized view of them considering my only knowledge of them is from the Ed Westwick/Felicity Jones movie and a brief mention in one series of Ladette to Lady, but I love the idea of beautiful snow lodges and a ski vacation in exchange for some household chores… Okay – so my expectations of life of a Chalet girl and the reality is most likely completely off. Lucky for me, Lorraine Wilson seems to have similar expectations and this short glimpse into the life of Holly on her working holiday is just what I expected and was hoping for when I picked up this book to read.

Written with switching point-of-views, Confessions of a Chalet Girl tells the story of Holly, an English girl who is working in Switzerland as a chalet girl. After meeting him for the first time, she finds herself enthralled with her new boss – Scott. Scott is similarly enamoured with Holly and before they know it sparks are flying. But rowdy drunken rich boys, meddlesome co-workers and the pesky employer/employee imbalance of power is getting in the way of what just might be the best thing to happen to either one of them.

This book was a very quick read. At just over a hundred pages, there’s not a lot of time for character development and I think the plot falls down a little because of this. The relationship between Holly and Scott happens at a fast pace. There’s not much else going on in this book except for the romance between the leads. And the characters are inconsistent in their portrayals. Holly fluctuates between acting like a petty pre-teen and being a wanton sex goddess. And despite learning about him throughout the book, I felt like Scott was still a mystery to me in most ways by the time I finished the novel.

That said, this book was cute and a pleasant quick read. It’s very light and fluffy with a lot of romance.

Thanks to Harper Impulse and Netgalley for the digital review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

Book Review: I Wolf by Matt Boyd

Title: I Wolf
Author: Matt Boyd
Genre: Supernatural, action 
Publisher: ABC Books
Publication Date: 1 June 2013 
Pages: 279
Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Romy suffers from a disease that will send him mad…and ultimately kill him. His last hope is to travel to an isolated castle in Austria, where a cure is promised. But the treatment is drastic. Romy is turned into a werewolf.

When Romy meets Antonia, beautiful, headstrong and a natural-born werewolf, he slowly starts to come to terms with life as a lycanthrope. But then a spate of grisly night-time murders are reported and wild animals are suspected. What has Romy become?

My Review:

Matt Boyd’s debut novel, I Wolf, is an exciting tale featuring one of my favourite supernatural creatures – werewolves! Romy (aka. Romulus) is a sixteen year old who has been facing a death sentence since before he could remember. He’s had a terminal illness hanging over his head and no sign of a cure… until now. Romy’s father has found a secretive, exclusive and somewhat mysterious program in Austria who might be able to save Romy. Not completely sure what the treatment entails, Romy and his family set off from Australia and travel to Europe in hopes that the program may save his sanity where everything else has failed before.

I Wolf features a fantastic breed of werewolves. The account of the shifters history and just what it means to be a wolf in this universe is strong. Romy’s feelings whilst running in his beast form was one of my favourite parts of the novel to read – it was rich with thoughts and feelings. The romance angle between Romy and Antonia felt a little off-putting and awkward – adding nothing to the overall plot as it didn’t feel natural for the characters. The secondary characters of Nat and Dimitri added a lot to the story and brought out Romy’s humanity – which I felt was a little lacking even before the treatment.

This story is a little raw in terms of emotion. I thought that Romy was an accurate narrator with regards to the werewolf lessons and action but he was a little lacking when it came to emotion and feeling. There are some rather terrible and dramatic things that happen to him after arriving in Austria but he doesn’t let the emotions rise to the surface and rather moves on with the next course of action.

I thought that the flow of this novel at a little disconcerting at times with there not being a solid direction of just what the characters were doing. But there were other times when I was there with Romy and his pack as they went on their adventures.

Overall, I found this book to be a great quick read and I loved how Matt Boyd created his particular breed of werewolves. I feel like this book would be devoured by younger readers as it lacked a little depth and emotion for me personally but I think I’d have loved this book back when I was 12 or so.

Thanks to HarperCollins and Netgalley for the digital review copy.

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Book Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

Title: The Elite (The Selection #2)
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: dystopia, fantasy, romance
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 1st May 2013
Pages: 272
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (goodreads):
America Singer has the chance to leave normal life for a world of glamour and luxury… for ever.

She was chosen for The Selection, a reality TV competition to be gorgeous Prince Maxon′s bride. Surviving the rivalry and turmoil of the first round was tough, especially with secret feelings to conceal. But America′s gone further than she dared to dream and made it to The Elite – the final six.

Friendships are tested to breaking point as favourites emerge. America′s feelings for Maxon grow ever stronger, but she suspects darker mysteries in his family past. With Aspen close-by offering comfort, solace and something more, where do her loyalties truly lie?

My Review:

The Elite delivered exactly what I wanted in the second book of the Selection series. There’s more drama, more love triangles and more gorgeous gowns fit for a princess-to-be. America Singer is still in the middle working out her feelings regarding her two admirers – Crown Prince Maxon and her childhood sweetheart now Palace guard, Aspen. Every time she thinks she’s decided which way her heart is leading her something happens and makes her feel mixed up all over again. Maxon only has six girls left in The Selection and where America was once comfortable regarding his feelings towards the other girls she’s now anxious and more jealous than she ever though she’d feel. Emotions are running strong. Marlee is still acting oddly, Celeste has more nasty tricks up her sleeve and the King weighs in with who he think Maxon should pick…

The first half of this novel doesn’t have much regarding the dystopian aspect of this book but the second half ramps up and delivers some much-anticipated action. The rebels are back and the threat to the crown and country. The remaining girls from the Selection get more time to show who they are as people as well as learning the importance and responsibility of  being Maxon’s wife. America is still a little too amazing for my liking – being a hero to the people and the funniest girl in the Selection – but more of her flaws came out as this series is developing. The love triangles are a little overwhelming at times with America deciding on one of her men and then being adamant that it’s the other one she’s meant to be with. And then another flip-flop in her decision a few pages later.

For the Bachelor fans – there’s still quite a bit in this book for you! Extravagant balls, a bit of scandal and scheming competitors are still in the mix and feel like they’d be right at home on the show. Whilst the Bachelor aspect is what drew me to this series, I’ve grown attached to the characters and unique drama Kiera Cass has brought to her story. I can not wait to read The One and find out who America chooses and which of the remaining contestants will be Maxon’s bride – along with just how much more damage the rebels will inflict.

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