Book Review: How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You by Tara Eglington

Title: How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You
Author: Tara Eglington
Genre: contemporary romance; chick lit
Publisher: Angus&Robertson (an imprint of HarperCollins)
Publication Date: 1st February 2013
Pages: 384
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (goodreads):
Sweet sixteen and never been kissed – and that′s the way Aurora Skye wants it to be. She′s too busy finding Potential Princes ™ for her two best friends, counselling her sensitive New Age dad and dealing with the unexpected return of her long-absent mum. But always in the background there′s Hayden Paris, the boy next door, the bane of Aurora′s life. Smart, funny, and always around to see her at her worst, he ′gets′ her like no-one else … and that′s what makes him so infuriating.

When Aurora and Hayden are coerced into the lead roles in the school production of Much Ado About Nothing, things can only get worse. How is Aurora going to save her first kiss for the secret admirer who wooed her with poetry and a spectacular bunch of flowers on Valentine′s Day if she doesn′t know who he is and she′s obligated to lock lips with Hayden in the play′s final dramatic clinch?

From talented debut YA author Tara Eglington, this is a page-turning, funny and delicious romp of a book that both kissing and non-kissing teenage girls will adore.

My Review:

For Aurora Skye, romance is one of the most important things in life. And first kisses should be reserved for a worthy Prince. Armed with strategies and avoidance techniques, Aurora wants to save her first kiss for her true love (she even engages stealthy spy like operations to stop unwanted advances) even when it leads her into some rather embarrassing situations.

With Hayden Paris, a boy-next-door who is the bane of Aurora’s existence  and a New Age Dad (NAD) who seems to think that Aurora and Hayden are a couple, Aurora’s Find a Prince Program™ has some obstacles to overcome. But like her Disney Princess namesake, Aurora is willing to go the extra mile to make sure that True Love’s first kiss prevails.

This book is adorable! It reminded me very much of a Disney Channel movie (and in a good way. I love those!) crossed with the film Clueless. Everything from the slightly eccentric dance teacher to the girls doing the glide-by on the first day of school – I could picture Aurora and her friends’ antics so very clearly in my mind. With all the books about teenagers saving the world it was refreshing to read a book that reminded me of my own school years where first kisses were regarded as sacred. Aurora is a very sweet leading lady. She’s somewhat melodramatic and confused but her heart is in the right place – I could tell that she really did have her friend’s best interests at heart no matter what the situation. And what I loved most about her is that I saw so much of myself about her. Trying to advise others with no practical experience to her name? She’s a character that I think a lot of girls could relate to.

Much Ado About Nothing is one of the few Shakespeare plays that I am completely unfamiliar with and despite the play being central to the development of Aurora and Hayden’s friendship and relationship, this book does a great job of not requiring any previous knowledge of Shakespeare’s work. And as a former drama nut myself, I appreciated the dynamics of just what it takes to put on a school play (although how that managed to put in on in a matter of weeks? I have no idea how they achieved that!).

This is one of those books where the characters are teenagers. And they’re believable teens – not seventeen year olds going on forty. Whilst I found Hayden a little bland I found myself loving him for Aurora. The supporting characters were fun and I liked how they contrasted the leads but also the other minor players.

How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You is an enjoyable and entertaining read by a debut Aussie author. The characters are adorable. Whilst the plot was somewhat predictable this is definitely one of those books that you read not for the destination but for the quirky and fun journey. I’m delighted to see that this is not the last of Aurora Skye. How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You will be published late in 2013.

 

Thanks to The Reading Room and HarperCollins Australia for providing me with a copy to review.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: Die For Me by Amy Plum

Title: Die For Me (Reverants #1)
Author: Amy Plum
Genre: paranormal romance; urban fantasy; zombies
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: 10 May 2011
Pages: 341 pages
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier’s parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life–and memories–behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate’s guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he’s a revenant–an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

My Review:

Kate Mercer is devastated after her parents are killed in a car accident. Her sister (and now technically her guardian) decides that the best thing for the two of them is to relocate from New York to their grandparents’ house in Paris. Still reeling from the tragedy to strike her family, Kate becomes a shadow of her former self. Then she meets Vincent – strange and mysterious yet chivalrous Vincent. Feeling like she should hold her heart back from the odd gorgeous boy but not being able to resist his charm, Kate falls for Vincent only to find out she might not be able to handle his special kind of supernatural abilities.

I love books that are set in a far off distant land and the city is well and truly a part of the story. I recently read a book apparently set in Italy and it could have been set anywhere. But in Die For Me, Paris is almost a character itself. One of those books where after I read about the places Kate goes and the vibe of the city and it makes me want to go to Europe.

I loved the pace of this novel. I know, it might sound a little weird for the pace to be the first thing that comes to mind for me but some first in the series books can be a bit of an info dump – too much too soon with too many details that I keep feeling the need to flick back and re-read those sections all the time. But I really liked learning about Vincent and the others along with Kate and their specific supernaturalness. The secondary characters are brilliant – I thought the way they got to tell their stories and the way they interact with each other was fantastic to read. I loved seeing Kate evolve as a character but seeing the others flourish around her (like Georgia and Jules) was amazing.

Fun characters, interesting and fantastic zombies (and coming from a zombie hater that’s something) and not too much of that teen angst that some YA novels seem to be bursting to the brim with. It’s probably not surprising to hear that as soon as I finished Die For Me (at 1am) I instantly jumped online to buy a copy of the second book in the series, Until I Die.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 

Read for the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge


Book Review: From Ashes by Molly McAdams

Title: From Ashes
Author: Molly McAdams
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Chick Lit 
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (an imprint of HarperCollins)
Publication Date: December 2012
Pages: 416
Rating: 1 star

Synopsis (goodreads):

Aside from her dad, who passed away when she was six, Cassidy Jameson has only ever trusted one man: her best friend, Tyler. So of course she follows him to Texas when he leaves for college. She just didn’t expect to be so drawn to their new roommate, Gage, a gorgeous guy with a husky Southern drawl. The only problem? He’s Tyler’s cousin.

Gage Carson was excited to share an apartment off campus with his cousin. He didn’t mind that Tyler was bringing the mysterious friend he’d heard about since they were kids . . . until the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen jumps out of his cousin’s Jeep. There’s something about Cassi that makes Gage want to give her everything. Too bad Tyler has warned him that she’s strictly off-limits.

Despite everything keeping them apart, Cassi and Gage dance dangerously close to the touch they’ve both been craving. But when disaster sends her running into Tyler’s arms, Cassi will have to decide whether to face the demons of her past . . . or to burn her chance at a future with Gage.

My Review:

This isn’t a bad book. You might think that it’s strange that I say that when I’ve given it such a low rating but I don’t think it’s a bad story. In fact there are many friends of mine who I imagine would really enjoy From Ashes. The thing is this book manages to contain every single one of my pet peeves; instant love, miscommunication, misinformation, a heroine whom every man falls in love with instantly and a happily ever after that didn’t quite make sense to me.

Cassidy Jameson was the apple of her father’s eye and his princess up until her sixth birthday when he passed away suddenly. Since then Cassi live a nightmare every day with her drunken mother and abusive step father. Her neighbour and best friend, Tyler, did all he could to help her survive. And somehow between the two of them, Cassi managed to make it to her teenage years. And then on the day Tyler left for college he packed her up and dragged her along just to get her out of the disaster that was her life.

It’s there that Cassi meets Gage. Gorgeous, smart, cowboy that from the moment she first lays eyes on him she knows that he’s something else. Gage feels the sparks instantly and wants to know the beautiful mysterious girl more intimately. Only problem is that Tyler has been in love with Cassi for over a decade and he’s not going to let anyone interlope on his turf- not even the cousin that he feels is more like a brother from another mother. Uh oh…

I have a few issues with stories where most of the drama arises from lack of communication. I understand that it’s somewhat realistic because people are notoriously bad at getting their feelings across especially when true emotions are involved BUT this story just kept going around and around in circles. Cassi and Gage would have a moment then Tyler would come in and ruin things. So then there’s some standoffishness between our leading couple only to have more beautiful and tender scenes between them only to be ripped apart again. Tyler convinces Gage that he and Cassi are together – as in more than just friends. He even goes as far as to describe their bedroom antics in a less than classy way. And just in case that doesn’t change Gage’s intentions towards Cassi – Ty also makes sure to tell Cassi that Gage finds her attention revolting. He’s such a stand up guy that Ty (and that’s not even counting some of his other classy moments). It just frustrated me.

There’s also the matter of how attractive and just palin amazing the male characters found Cassi. I swear – no less than 4 guys thought Cassi walked on water and they needed her in their lives. To make matters worse, I couldn’t quite work out why they found her so fascinating and incredible. I admired her for her ability to survive her childhood (although considering how brutal they said it was I’m a little incredulous to believe that she could have survived and no one but Tyler noticed the decade long abuse). But I found Cassi to be a little flat. She had no motivation to do anything and despite her spunky attitude towards the blonde in chapter one, she’s a little boring. Gage had some anger management issues and I can’t believe Tyler would be able to act the way he did for so long towards two people that he claimed to love.

I could go on and on about this book but I won’t.

It’s great to see a novel where everything is nicely tied up in one instalment – no unnecessary sequels and there’s a piece of happiness for all the characters I grew attached to whilst reading From Ashes. Despite my issues with the story and characters, at its heart this is a love story about someone having to overcome a great darkness. I think this book would appeal to fans of other new adult novels such as  Beautiful Disaster. 

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Title: Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy #1)
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: paranormal romance, vampires, urban fantasy, werewolves, magic
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: October 2010
Pages: 320 pages
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

My Review:

Evie is a very interesting character – she’s confident about her job but at the same time she’s just naive teenager trying to make her way in the world. Having lived inside the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA) since she was a little girl, werewolves, vampires and fae are a part of her every day life. Her best friend is a mermaid and Evie is the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

Then one day everything changes. There’s a break in at the Agency and Evie comes face to face with a paranormal she’s never seen the likes of before. A shapeshifter who can take the form of any person or paranormal being. Good thing Evie can see though his shifts.

When paranromals are being murdered, a stranger mysterious shape changing boy infiltrating Evie’s thoughts and Evie’s abilities mutating – her life will never be the same. And to think – Evie thought the world was boring and would give anything to have a locker and go to Prom…

This book has a lot of promise. It’s a fun world where the fae are manipulative and somewhat sinister. Vampires are neither sophisticated nor do they sparkle. And werewolves are no more than the hired help who get furry once a month.

Evie is both jaded by the world she lives in and yet completely naive and excited by the mundane. I thought it was adorable that her favourite show was a Gossip Girl type teen drama. Who would have thought a girl could be so excited by school lockers and driver’s licenses! But whilst I adored the sweet side of Evie, I found her professional demeanour somewhat off-putting. With her trusty pink taser “Tasey” by her side, Evie felt way too immature and slightly irritating.

The shape shifting boy – Lend – was the stuff teenage dreams are made off. He was the prefect match for Evie. The other minor characters were interesting and I liked the small plot deviations they brought about. Vivian was vibrant and I can’t wait to see her in the future.

For a first book in a series – Paranormalcy does a great job at setting the scene. I loved the variety of creatures and how they interacted with each other – especially the Fae! I already have a copy of the second book, Supernaturally, and can’t wait to start reading.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 

Read as part of the:

Eclectic Reader Challenge (urban fantasy)

2013 TBR Reading Challenge


Book Review: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Title: What’s Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1)
Author: Kat Zhang
Genre: dystopia; sci-fi; fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: September 2012 
Pages: 343 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

My Review:

In a place where every body is born with two souls, Eva and Addie Tamsyn are somewhat of an oddity. Most people settle and the dominant soul takes over and the other one fades away for ever when they are still young. But not Eva and Addie – at fifteen Eva should have been gone for years but she still exists, unbeknownst to all but Addie.

After an incident at a museum and unlikely friendship with siblings Hally and Devon, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for Eva – the chance for things to be like they were before Addie started to dominate their body.

But the world is a dangerous place with medical facilities set up exclusively for the treatment of hybrid beings. Eva is leading Addie down a dangerous path with a lot to gain… but what price?

The idea of two souls simultaneously existing in one body is crazy and yet the author managed to make it work so well in this novel. There was never any doubt for me who was in control of their body for any of the hybrid characters – a fairly impressive feat.

As a first novel in the series I thought the plot progressed at a steady pace – there’s a bit of world building and setting up for more exciting things to come in the future – but the book managed to hold my attention right up until the final page.

I wasn’t a big fan of the romance in this novel – it felt a little tokenistic to me but thankfully it wasn’t a huge focus of the book.

What’s Left of Me is a great debut novel with a great concept and fascinating characters. I’ll be looking forward to reading the next book in the Hybrid Chronicles when it’s released mid 2013.

Thanks to HarperCollins and NetGalley for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Reckoning (Darkest Powers Trilogy #3)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, magic, werewolves, witches, ghosts
Publisher: HarperCollins; Atom
Publication Date: April 2010
Pages: 391
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
My name is Chloe Saunders. I’m fifteen, and I would love to be normal.

But normal is one thing I’m not.

For one thing, I’m having these feelings for a certain antisocial werewolf and his sweet-tempered brother–who just happens to be a sorcerer–but, between you and me, I’m leaning toward the werewolf.

Not normal.

My friends and I are also on the run from an evil corporation that wants to get rid of us–permanently.

Definitely not normal.

And finally, I’m a genetically altered necro-mancer who can raise the dead, rotting corpses and all, without even trying.

As far away from normal as it gets.

My Review:

The troubled teens are still on the run from the sinister Edison Group; Chloe’s necromancy skills are getting stronger and stronger, Tori is able to perform magic that witches many times her age can’t achieve without incantations and Derek’s changes are getting more intense and more frequent. Add her romantic entanglement with both Simon AND Derek – things couldn’t get much more complicated for Chloe Saunders.

After holding up at a safe house but not feeling all that safe at the moment, Chloe has to cope with an evil teenage ghost haunting the house and a necromancer mentor who doesn’t believe Chloe’s skills. Along with the threat of the Edison Group hanging over them, the teens grow more and more suspicious of anyone and everyone until… at last – one way or another – they get to the bottom of the Lyle House mystery…

I’m always anxious when I get to the last book in a series/trilogy that I’m enjoying. I want to know just how it’s going to end but at the same time I don’t want to have to leave the characters.

Chloe has grown so much since the first book. Her powers are developing experientially and she’s come a long way from the stuttering fearful girl into the woman who overcomes her fears when it comes to protecting the ones she loves.

The other characters are great in their own ways too – I’m not sure after the first book I ever thought I could like Tori but she’s grown on me and I’m glad that the others accepted her into their merry crew of adolescent misfits.

I loved the amount of action that occurs throughout this book. There’s evil angry ghosts, get away plans, werewolves and so much more. This was a fantastic instalment in the trilogy however – I didn’t love the ending. Or rather, I didn’t like that the trilogy was ending. There’s so much more I want to know. But I did love how all the drama came to climax and the resulting resolution was fitting to the series.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository


Book Review: The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Summoning (Darkest Powers Trilogy #1)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, 
Publisher: HarperCollins; Atom
Publication Date: April 2009
Pages: 360
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl — someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I’m as far away from normal as it gets. I’m a living science experiment — not only can I see ghosts, but I was genetically altered by a sinister organization call the Edison Group. What does that mean? For starters. I’m a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control: I raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever.

Now I’m running for my life with three of my supernatural friends – a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch – and we have to find someone who can help us before the Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying.

My Review:

I think the Darkest Powers trilogy is going to go down as one of my favourite YA paranormal series.

The Awakening picks up at the exact moment that the first book in the series, The Summoning, finishes – with Chloe stuck in the institution after a somewhat failed break out attempt from Lyle House and the heartbreaking betrayal from Chloe’s aunt.

Now, with her every move being monitored by the staff and no escape routes visible, Chloe needs to deal with the ghosts that won’t leave her alone and her anxiety over Simon’s health and Derek’s “condition” whilst they are on the run. Not one to sit around and pout, Chloe – with the help of Liz’s ghost – needs finds a way to get out, find the boys and get to the bottom of what the sinister scientists are up to.

For me, this book had what The Summoning was lacking. It was exciting, fast paced and suspenseful. I picked this book up when I couldn’t sleep, vowing only to read a few chapters… next thing I knew it was 3am and I’d finished it.

I complained about Chloe coming across as a little bland in the first book but she’s completely redeemed herself in my eyes. I found that I enjoyed getting to see her embrace her ghost busting powers more and more as well as not letting anyone who was bigger and badder than her push her around.

Derek is a character that I adored after the first book and now I like him even more. He and the other supporting characters have issues and complicated pasts. It makes them somewhat real in an unreal and paranormal world. Tori, Simon and the others are an incredibly mismatched group but their bickering entertained me and I loved the fact that they were flawed and kept their grudges despite their current circumstances.

As a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series, I was thrilled to read the slight crossover that occurred in this novel (Clayton’s reputation precedes him!) and makes perfect sense to the plot of this story.

This book is not one that can be read as a stand alone – there is a lot that is assumed knowledge from the first book in the series – but is a fantastic story that includes some of my favourite supernatural creatures, exciting plot and interesting characters.

I jumped online and bought the third book as soon as I finished reading….

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository


Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Title: Delirium (Delirium #1) 
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Dystopia, sci-fi, romance, young adult
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (an imprint of Hachette), HarperCollins
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 393
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
What if love were a disease?

There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it.

Then, at last, they found the cure.

Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable.

My Review:

The most dangerous sicknesses are those that make us believe we are well. – Proverb 42, The book of Shhh.

I’ve been nervous to read this book. There’s so much hype around it and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. It has a rating of 4.07 after over fifty thousand ratings on goodreads. So after I bought a copy, I put it on the shelf along and left it alone.

Until last week. And I’m so glad that I finally read it. And I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a good love story as well as anyone who likes a good dystopian novel.

After seeing her mother and her older sister be victims to amor deliria nervosa, Lena has been counting down the days till her eighteenth birthday. The day when she  can receive the cure and never have to worry about being infected with the disease of love. With one summer left between her and the cure, Lena and her best friend Hana sit their examinations to determine who they will be matched with to marry and procreate with after being cured. There’s a disturbance during the testing and Lena is introduced to a world where maybe love isn’t the disease she’s always thought it to be. Maybe love is what’s worth living for.

I think I’m a bit of a champion for love. The idea of a world without love horrifies me. And whilst I can’t dispute the facts laid out in The Book of Shhh,  I never realized how many facets of our lives are influenced by the strong emotion. There’s love of our families, our children, our partners, our friends and every part of our worlds. Music, art and even nature. It’s all comes back to love.

Like for most books that introduce a new series and in that a new world, there’s a bit of world building going on at the start. But I found all of it fascinating. I loved the main characters – Lena, Hana and Alex. They’re all so different and yet they contrast each other brilliantly. There were some times when I didn’t understand Lena’s actions. I understood where her thoughts were going but then she’d just do something slightly out of left field and I’d just be sitting there with a quizzical look on my face wondering why Lena? Why?!

I don’t want to go into too many details plot wise – I didn’t know anything that was going to happen and the surprise is some of what made it so exciting and compelling.

The relationship between Alex and Lena was beautifully played out. I loved how it developed as the story went on. There are some scenes between them that will go down as some of the most romantic that I’ve ever read.

I already have a copy of the second book in the series, Pandemonium. I don’t think it’ll take me any time at all to get around to reading it.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository


Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Title: Insurgent (Divergent #2)
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Dystopia, Sci-Fi, Post Apocalypse
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 2012
Pages: 525
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth’s much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

My Review:

“No matter how long you train someone to be brave, you never know if they are or not until something real happens.” 

This book picks up immediately after the action packed ending of Divergent. I loved where it stated – right in the thick of things. And to keep those who read the first in the series a year ago when it was first released, Veronica Roth was kind enough to put a fantastic summary on her website. Tris is suffering from an incredible amount of guilt – both from her actions and over her parents. After arriving at the Amity compound with Four, Caleb, Marcus and Peter, she needs to make a decision. What to do next? The whole faction system is in tatters and with the Eurdite leader hunting down the Divergents, Tris has to do all that she can to survive at the risk of her relationships and her life.

I get so nervous reading the second in a series when I adored the first installment. They often seem to suffer from something I like to call “Sucky Second Syndrome”. But this is not the case with Insurgent. This book is just as intense and brilliant as the first. The characters have grown throughout the series so far. Tris has come a long way from the Abnegation community she was born into. She’s Dauntless by choice but during this novel you can see that she’s so much more than that. She embraces her Divergent nature to try to survive the war as best she can.

For me, one of the highlights of this novel is the relationship between Tris and Tobias. They are the perfect example of a couple who don’t need big romantic gestures to show that they love  each other. I also loved how the author showed their relationship in terms of trust – how essential it is to have on both sides. Some of the best dialogue in the novel was interchanges between these two.

“We’re all right, you know,’ he says quietly. ‘You and me. Okay?’ My chest aches, and I nod. ‘Nothing else is all right.’ His whisper tickles my cheek. ‘But we are.” 

See? Despite the world crumbling down around them they still manage to be all romantic and sweet but at the same time being entirely appropriate for the circumstances.

As far as action goes – this book has plenty. We get to see all the other factions that we missed in the first book as well as some of the side characters that only got brief mentions. I thought everything was so well thought out. There’s nothing from the first novel that’s forgotten or skipped over – people who died are remembered and those who survived aren’t without their own issues.

There are a lot of scenes concerning gunfire, running from enemies and trying to work out just who is the enemy and who is on the side of right. Some scenes did drag a little in terms of the fighting and I was tempted to gloss over a few of them. But they all added to the atmosphere of war and a world in tatters.

I loved this book. I loved the world that Veronica has created and the characters that she lets inhabit it. There are a few surprises in this one and some revelations that may be a little hard to fully grasp. I needed to give the ending a few reads and I’m still not entirely sure what’s happening – I think that’s half the enjoyment right there. I can now spend the next year speculating and coming up with my own theories – all of which will be proved to be entirely incorrect. 😛

The third book in the Divergent series is as of yet still untitled although  do love the name of Detergent that I saw Ms. Roth using on her blog. This series has been a pleasure to read so far. I can not recommend it highly enough. I bought copies of the first two novels for both my brother and my sister for their birthdays next month. The sibling seal of approval is as high as it gets for me.

Purchase the novel from: 

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Summoning (Darkest Powers Trilogy #1)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, 
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: July 2008
Pages: 390
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Chloe Saunders sees dead people. Yes, like in the films. The problem is, in real life saying you see ghosts gets you a one-way ticket to the psych ward. And at 15, all Chloe wants to do is fit in at school and maybe get a boy to notice her. But when a particularly violent ghost haunts her, she gets noticed for all the wrong reasons. Her seemingly crazed behaviour earns her a trip to Lyle House, a centre for disturbed teens.

At first Chloe is determined to keep her head down. But then her room mate disappears after confessing she has a poltergeist, and some of the other patients also seem to be manifesting paranormal behaviour. Could that be a coincidence? Or is Lyle House not quite what it seems…? Chloe realizes that if she doesn’t uncover the truth, she could be destined for a lifetime in a psychiatric hospital. Or could her fate be even worse…? Can she trust her fellow students, and does she dare reveal her dark secret?

My Review:

I love the concept of this novel. I’ve been a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series for a long time now and I have wondered what happens to the children when they don’t have someone incredible to introduce them into the magical and supernatural world. Those questions were answered in The Summoning. 

Chloe Saunders isn’t like other fifteen-year olds. Her mother died when she was younger and her dad is an absentee parent. Her housekeepers and aunt raised her. Oh – and she sees ghosts. After an incident in school, which resulted in Chloe accidentally assaulting a teacher, Chloe gets sent to Lyle House – an institution for troubled teens. Chloe tries to keep her head down and tell the doctor and other staff what they want to hear – that ghosts don’t exist and they were just a result of Chloe having schizophrenia. But after some strange happenings at Lyle House, Chloe isn’t too sure that ghosts don’t exist. There’s a ghost in the basement and her room-mate is plagued with a poltergeist. Add in a boy who claims to be a sorcerer and a couple of other slightly odd characters and Chloe starts to question if Lyle House is really all it appears to be…

I know I said it before but I want to say it again. I loved the concept of this story. The only problem was I found it a little lacking in execution. The cast of characters were interesting and I thought it brilliant the way they all came together. Kid who did odd things or claimed to see the unnatural – it makes perfect sense that they would be segregated from “normal” kids and placed in a psychiatric facility. The nurses served their roles well but I felt like even after reading the novel I barely knew them.

Chloe was a little bland for my liking – she only truly started to appeal to me as a character in the last fifty pages or so. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series as I did really start to care about what happened to her but for the most part she was a little irritating. What I did like about Chloe was her interest in film and the way that when life got a little too difficult or scary, she’d imagine how she’d have her actors play the scene if it was a scene she was directing. I found that an adorable way of having the heroine face her fears and put herself into situations she didn’t want to be in and at the same time retain her timid persona.

There were times when I felt like this book dragged on a little. The middle part of this novel felt like it took forever. All the events in this book occur within a two-week time frame but it felt like a lot longer as every day and the routine of each day in Lyle House was mentioned. I do wonder if that was a way of trying to involve the reader and to try to show what things were like for Chloe and the other misfits but I got a little bored. Had I not been stuck on a train with no other reading material – I probably would have given up on this book and that would have been a shame.

The ending was fantastic. Whilst for the first part of the novel I really couldn’t care less if I kept reading or not, the ending had me hooked. I was devastated when it ended. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository