Book Review: True by Erin McCarthy

Title: True
Author: Erin McCarthy
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance, New Adult 
Publisher: Intermix (an imprint of Penguin) 
Publication Date: 7th May 2013
Pages: 238
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads): When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job…unbeknownst to Rory.

Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t resist taking up her roommates on an opportunity to get to know her better. There’s something about her honesty that keeps him coming back when he knows he shouldn’t…

Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost…

My Review:

For book smart Rory watching TV shows about human anatomy is her idea of the perfect Saturday night. But her two room-mates and closest friends think Rory needs a social life . This explains how Rory finds herself on the sofa contemplating losing her virginity to a guy she doesn’t even know and doesn’t particularly like. Things go from bad to worse and Rory finds herself being rescued by a shirtless. He may be sleeping with one of her room-mates but within weeks Rory finds there’s more to the surprisingly deep tattooed bad boy than she ever would have suspected.

On the surface this novel seems to be rather similar to many of the New Adult books I’ve read in the past year. But True is different. The characters have a lot of depth. The plot has twists and turns. And I found myself falling in love with the characters and the story with every page I read.

Rory is logical and analytical – two things that I absolutely loved about her. She doesn’t (or at least she tries not to) let her emotions get the best of her. When things don’t add up she goes back and reconsiders the facts before jumping to conclusions. Tyler is shockingly sweet. His heart is exceptionally big – with him always trying to do the right thing by everyone no matter what the consequences will be for himself. His relationships with his brothers and Rory are lovely to read.

The supporting characters are all fun and flawed in their own ways. I’m excited to see that a book about one of Rory’s room-mates is going to be written that will include Rory and Tyler moments.

If you’ve tried New Adult fiction and not liked the over emotional, angsty drama – I’d give True a try before giving up on the genre. This is still a little angsty but these characters make sense together and the journey to the destination is worthwhile.

 

Thanks to NetGalley and Intermix for the digital ARC.

Amazon / Barnes and Noble 


Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Paris
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: October 2011
Pages: 348 pages
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion…she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit–more sparkly, more fun, more wild–the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket–a gifted inventor–steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

My Review:

Dolores Nolan (better known as Lola) is a seventeen year old budding fashion designer. Vowing to never wear the same outfit twice in a calendar year, her clothes are often somewhat eccentric but always an original. Her two dads hate her twenty-two year old on the verge of becoming a rockstar boyfriend, Max. Her birth mother is a fortune telling mess and the Bell twins, Cricket and Calliope, with whom Lola has a feud have just moved back in next door. Senior year is shaping up  nicely… and it hasn’t even started yet.

Trying to navigate through family issues and wardrobe dilemmas, Lola is just trying to make it though. But Cricket keeps popping up all over the place. In the street, in stores Lola’s frequenting – Cricket even turns up at the cinema where Lola works! After what happened two summers before, Lola doesn’t know if she can trust him. But feelings become involved and Lola becomes conflicted. Should she choose the hot glamorous older rocker Max or Cricket – the boy next door.

I loved Anna and the French Kiss and the main reason I picked up a copy of Lola was because I’d heard there was a guest appearance of Anna and St. Clair. I’m glad I decided to read Lola’s story because it’s just as adorable and sweet as Anna’s French Kiss.

Lola is fun. She’s quirky and adventurous  It’s not just her fashion sense that’s colourful. Her family life was such a delightful contrast to that of Anna’s – her dads set curfews, rules regarding boyfriends and keep an eye on just who is coming and going from their daughter’s bedroom. Her mother is an interesting character who had a very interesting relationship with Lola. I loved how they all interacted with each other – it felt authentic. Lola’s own personal conflict was more than just her love life. She becomes confused to whether it’s the girl who makes the costumes or the costumes who make the girl.

And then there’s the boys in Lola’s life. Max – whom everyone from her best friend Lindsay to her parents and even her colleagues at the cinema thinks is too old for her. I loved the contrast that he provided for Cricket. Oh Cricket. I have so many adjectives I could use to describe this character (who I absolutely adored) but I think the one that fits best is awkward. He’s delightfully awkward. In that way that makes him go from a nerd to geek chic in my eyes. I’m a sucker for romantic gestures and Cricket’s conversations and general adorableness was the kind that made my heart feel like it had grown five sizes from reading it. He’s just that dorky romantic soul that I love reading about.

Anna and St. Clair make a few appearances in this book and whilst it was great to see them again (and that was the main reason why I decided to read this book) there was something about their scenes that felt a little odd to me. It’s interesting to see a relationship that blossomed from their point of view to all of a sudden being on the outside looking in. They have certainly matured – both as people and with regards to their relationship. I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy reading about their romance as much as I did in their own book but I thought it was a lovely way to tie their story to Lola’s.

This book was a joy to read. I loved the romance and the characters. The leads were sweet and fun and the supporting characters kept things interesting and the plot moving along. Isla and the Happily Ever After comes out in September and I know for sure that I’ll be purchasing a copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Nameless by Lili St. Crow

Title: Nameless (Tales of Beauty and Madness #1)
Author: Lili St. Crow
Genre: fairytale retelling, fantasy, paranormal romance
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: 20 March 2013
Pages: 336 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
When Camille was six years old, she was discovered alone in the snow by Enrico Vultusino, godfather of the Seven—the powerful Families that rule magic-ridden New Haven. Papa Vultusino adopted the mute, scarred child, naming her after his dead wife and raising her in luxury on Haven Hill alongside his own son, Nico.

Now Cami is turning sixteen. She’s no longer mute, though she keeps her faded scars hidden under her school uniform, and though she opens up only to her two best friends, Ruby and Ellie, and to Nico, who has become more than a brother to her. But even though Cami is a pampered Vultusino heiress, she knows that she is not really Family. Unlike them, she is a mortal with a past that lies buried in trauma. And it’s not until she meets the mysterious Tor, who reveals scars of his own, that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her birth…to find out where she comes from and why her past is threatening her now.

New York Times bestselling author Lili St. Crow thrilled legions of fans with her dark paranormal series Strange Angels. Now she has crafted an evocative update of Snow White, set in a vividly imagined world and populated by unforgettable new characters.

My Review:

Camille Vultusino should want for nothing. Her papa, Enrico Vultusino, is one of the living Seven Families and gives her nothing but the best. Enrico’s son, Nico, would give his life to protect Cami from anything that tried to harm her. But Cami doesn’t know who she is. Found bloody and abandoned in the middle of the snow when she was six years old, Cami has no recollection of her parents, her home or anything in her life before Papa found her. Now ten years on, Cami has two best friends (Ruby and Ellie), loyal fey maid and servants to cater to her every whim.

But Papa’s mortality is leaving him and Nico is unstable and getting in fights left and right. Girls are going missing by the dozens all over the city and Cami is scared. One of the garden boys, Torin Beale, comes into her life and offers her comfort when her emotional security is fading away. But not everything is as it seems. Mirrors hide their secrets and when is an apple more than just fruit? Cami’s past is coming to haunt her and her only hope is remembering who she was before it is too late.

Growing up I only knew the Disney version of fairy tales. My mother was traumatized by the Grimm Brother’s versions as a child and forbid us to read them. It’s only now, as an adult, that I’ve read the morbid tale in its original state.

Lili St. Crow had done an incredible job at weaving the traditional story in with a new dystopian version of Snow White. She has used so many of the elements found in the Grimm tale in Nameless whilst creating a unique dystopian world for her retelling to be set. Blood-sucking families representing the dwarfs? Somewhat ingenious.

Whilst the character of Snow White has never been one of my favourites I thought that St. Crow captured her vulnerability and naivety perfectly in Cami. Victim to the core with good intentions never quite being thought through, Cami was the epitome of Snow White to me. Ellie and Ruby as Cinderella and Red Riding Hood respectively are equally representable of their classic fairy tale counterparts. Ruby captivated me – Her feisty and take charge attitude contrasted well with Cami’s passiveness and I can’t wait to see what happens next for the trio.

For me, one of the best parts of a fairy tale is the romance and I found it somewhat lacking in Nameless. The roles of Nico and Tor in Cami’s life felt somewhat confused and I have to admit the ending didn’t satisfy the romantic in me.

Family, abuse, blood-ties and self-worth are all issues faced in this novel and dealt with in interesting ways. This is not the Snow White story you would be familiar with however I thought it was a great addition to the genre.

This is a dark and twisted fairytale retelling that would appeal to people who don’t mind a scary rendition of a childhood classic.

 

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1)
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Genre: paranormal romance, fantasy, magic, witches
Publisher: Little Brown Books (an imprint of Hachette)
Publication Date: 1 December 2009
Pages: 563 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

My Review:

Without darkness there can be no light…

Gatlin is a small town with small-minded thinking. Ethan Wate feels like he’s been trapped his entire life. He’s counting down the days till he can go to college and escape. His dreams are haunted by a beautiful mysterious girl he’s never met. Night after night he fails her in these dreams. Things get even more spooky when he comes face to face with his “dream girl”, Lena Duchannes – old man Ravenwood’s niece, and she smells like she does in her dreams. Lemons and rosemary.

Ethan is drawn to Lena like he’s never been before. It’s magical the way they share dreams and thoughts. Lena isn’t like anyone Gatlin has ever seen before. But Lena has a secret. She’s not just any other girl. She has a dangerous secret and a family that puts the fun in dysfunctional. Creepy cousins, bizarre uncles and a house that changes furnishings instantly. Lena has a family legacy that will either free her or condemn her on her sixteenth birthday. The countdown is on and her relationship with Ethan only makes things even more confusing and dangerous.

I’ve not read many teen novels dealing with romance told from a male’s perspective. I liked that this book isn’t the typical girl meets strange mysterious boy kind of love story.

This is a long book and it took me a very very long time to read it. I started this book months ago and only just finished it. Some parts seemed to take forever for anything to happen and then there were action sequences that were a little rushed. I felt like some Southern stereotypes were played up and there were a lot of clichés used. That said, I liked the characters. Lena was the new mysterious girl with a dark past. Her family is eccentric and somehow loveable – all of them the light and the dark. Ethan was a little bland in comparison but he’s merely mortal (or is he?) and had an easy narration style to follow. Whilst I’m not sure a guy would pay quite so much attention to clothing I thought Garcia and Stohl manage to write a male point of view that was surprisingly authentic.

Conceptually I loved the story. There’s mystique and drama around every corner. The different powers were interesting and one of the supporting characters was an awesome librarian (however the name, Marian the Librarian reminded me a bit too much of The Music Man). I wasn’t convinced by the love story in terms of how it came to be but I loved the relationship between Ethan and Lena as the countdown ticked down and the Sixteenth Moon was upon them.

Overall this was an enjoyable read however it just took too long to get to the good parts and there was something about the way the South was described that got under my skin and irritated it.

 Additional Note:
I listened to this book as an Audible audiobook (Seventeen and a half hours!). Whilst I liked the narrator’s pacing, his accents infuriated me. I understand that the characters were from the South and needed Southern accents HOWEVER I couldn’t quite get into Ethan’s character since his dialogue was narrated in an accent but his thoughts and narration was not. It felt like the two were not quite the same person.

ALSO:

If you’re planning on reading this book do not, I repeat DO NOT!, go to the IMDB page for casting for the movie. I was talking to my sister about going to see the movie this weekend because she was excited about a certain actor/actress was in it. When she told me what character the person was playing it divulged a critical plot point that didn’t happen until the last ten percent or so of the book…

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Read for the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge

Listened to for the 2013 YA Audiobook Challenge

2013 YA Audiobook Challenge

Book Review: The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

Title: The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal, vampires, magic
Publisher: Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: 12 February 2013
Pages: 432 pages
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch–a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood–or else she might be next.

My Review:

This book has the Palm Springs crew back in action. Jill is still in danger and had Eddie and Angeline being ever vigilant to any possible attack. Adrian is snarky and spirited as ever and then there’s Sydney. She’s conflicted. With her relationships with the vampires strengthening as she spends more time with them, she’s not sure her Alchemist training and beliefs are the same as her own any more. Ms Terwilliger and her magic is now firmly a part of Sydney’s life – and a deadly threat is now hanging over Sydney’s head because of it. Marcus Finch with his mysterious Indigo tattoo is complicating things further not to mention that Sydney has Adrian constantly on her mind…

I love how there’s so much going on in these books. There’s action and romance with relationships being constantly tested and adventure around every corner. Sydney is steadily growing on me. She’s becoming a strong independent woman who is a far cry from the Alchemist from we met in Russia. I was impressed with her bag of tricks and spy skills! Her quirky banter with Adrian remains one of my favourite parts of the book. The two of them together – even when they’re apart – amuse me and make me smile. They’re gorgeous.

The only downside to this story is I’m not too sure how Sydney managed to be everywhere at once – Mead has kept her so very busy in this novel. There’s the Alchemist plot, her friends at school to keep in line, Adrian, the rebel Alliance, Adrian (I felt like he needed to be mentioned twice), her witchly magic… and there’s probably some I’m missing. I felt it was a little unlikely that even someone as awesome as Sydney wouldn’t be able to be on top of everything.

The supernatural aspect of this novel was interesting. Ms. Terwilliger and the witch storyline let us see Sydney in a new light – as a powerful person in her own right. Marcus Finch was a fascinating new addition. The charismatic rebel is the kind of character that I can see winning many fans. Interesting, mysterious and a rebel with a cause – I can’t wait to see what the future brings in terms of his storyline.

Seeing the zany Malachi Wolfe again was a highlight even if he didn’t exactly add all that much to the story.

I can not wait (but unfortunately will have to) until the fourth book in the Bloodlines series comes out. I love where this series is going and have high expectations for the future!

Many thanks to Penguin Teen Australia and NetGalley for the digital review copy!

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

Title: The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal, vampires, magic
Publisher: Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: 12 June 2012
Pages: 418 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she’s supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she’s been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart?

My Review:

This book picks up where Bloodlines ended – with Sydney still overseeing the crew of vampires hiding in Palm Springs to protect the Moroi Queen’s sister, Jill.

Sydney is growing on me the more I get to read about her and her adventures. She’s becoming more human as her interactions with vampires increases. She’s still dedicated to being “the responsible one” but she’s also realizing there’s more of a life out there than what her father has trained her for. There are friends, there are school dances and there are intelligent boys who smell like coffee. I liked seeing Sydney’s attempts at dating Brayden – a barista who works with Trey. Her flirting and dates with the male equal to herself. Although Sydney did start to wear on my nerves slightly at times, she’s becoming slightly kick-ass and I’m loving how her character is growing.

The other characters are what make this series addictive for me. Eddie, Angeline and Jill are fun and interesting – if not a little trouble. And then there’s Adrian. He’s snarky and spirited – his banter with Sydney being some of the most amusing parts of the novel. They’ve got great chemistry and their antics keep me enthralled. Seeing Adrian’s softer side just makes him a fantastic character to read about.

Plot wise – I love how Mead ties everything together. She’s constantly thinking about her characters no matter if they’re in the spotlight or not and when things come to a climax – it’s surprising but at the same time is completely logical. It’s a pleasure to read her books. There’s more new characters with their own secrets and problems but they’re equally as fascinating and endearing as the characters I’ve grown to love from the previous book.

This book is exciting with drama and action around every corner. With romance and suspense and adventure building, this is a series that I can’t help but think is going to be one of my all time favourites.

Purchase the novel from:

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Read for the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge

Book Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

With the third Bloodlines books, The Indigo Spell, being released next week (February 12th!) I’ve decided to prepared by sharing my reviews for the first books in the series. Enjoy!

Title: Bloodlines (Bloodlines #1)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal, vampires, magic
Publisher: Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: 23 August 2011
Pages: 421 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Blood doesn’t lie…

Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she’s still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir – the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir – is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill’s guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty – a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning…

My Review:

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while now – but decided to wait until I’d finished reading the Vampire Academy series before I started. And I’m glad that I did. Whilst it’s not necessary to read Vampire Academy before Bloodlines, this book does contain many spoilers of the previous series and there are many shared characters.

Sydney Sage is an alchemist in trouble. After assisting Rose Hathaway on orders from the slightly sinister and shady Abe Mazar, Sydney is very close being sent away and reprogrammed as an alchemist after being found sympathizing with the enemy – Vampires. But there’s an opportunity for her to redeem herself. Jill Dragomir needs protection from those who disapprove of her sister becoming Moroi Queen. Sydney is called in to help Jill, her guardian Eddie Castile and slightly bizarre friend, Adrian Ivashkov, fit in whilst they’re hiding in a ritzy Palm Springs boarding school.

With vampires, a rival alchemist and Mean Girls to deal with, Sydney never knew just how hard high school was.

Having read and loved the Vampire Academy series, I was already familiar with most of the characters in Bloodlines. Sydney Sage, the slightly uptight, by-the-book alchemist is a much stronger character than I gave her credit for previously. She’s smart, brave and more open-minded than I think her alchemist father would like. She takes on so much responsibility and acts way beyond her eighteen years. I loved seeing her grow as a person and how her relationships with the vampires developed over the novel.

Adrian, Jill and Eddie were just as interesting. They are all fighting their own battles but still manage to see the big picture. I love the interactions between all of them – the sister relationship between Sydney and Jill, the friendship with Eddie and the bizarre connection that Adrian and Sydney are experiencing. There is a different side of all these characters not previously seen. Adrian is rather dark – battling his inner demons as well as a broken heart. But despite his snide and sarcastic manner, he still manages to come across as some what endearing.

Plot wise – there’s a lot going on. And it managed to all happen simultaneously without confusion. And surprisingly – practically no romance to speak of.

I loved this book. Richelle Mead’s style is one that’s humorous and easy to read. The characters are engaging (especially those of Adrian and Jill) and the plot will keep you guessing and hooked right up until the last page.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Genre: contemporary romance; realistic fiction;
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 11 January 2012
Pages: 336 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

My Review:

Coming into reading this book – not knowing anything about it – and finding out on the very first page that the main character had terminal cancer, I knew that it wasn’t going to be the kind of book filled with sunshine and rainbows. And it wasn’t. But it was the kind full of heartbreak and hope, a few tears here and there as well as a hearty dose of laughter.

The Fault in Our Stars is the story of Hazel – a teenager who has been fighting a never-ending battle against her own body. Given up on a real life, Hazel drifts between class, watching reality tv with her parents and (at her mother’s request) going to a cancer kid support group once a week. It’s there that Augustus Waters enters her life. In Augustus, Hazel finds a kindred spirit. Someone she can be herself with, someone who knows what she’s been through.

I loved these two together – they’re both quirky and a little pretentious. And whilst pretentious isn’t usually a trait that endears me to characters, I loved how these two interacted with each other. They’ve been through so much at such a young age with both of them never expecting a future. They’ve become somewhat old for their age. And where their bodies are falling apart around them, their minds are free to grow and give them a somewhat unique wisdom. They are both intuitive and poignant with a sense of humour that stayed with them both no matter what.

The relationships in this book were another part that shone for me – Hazel with her parents, Hazel + Augustus and Peter and Hazel + Augustus and Isaac – I loved them all for different reasons. It was beautiful to read a story of someone with a terminal disease who didn’t spend their entire time being bitter. I loved Hazel’s camaraderie with her family and the gallows humour she and Augustus invoked at Isaac regarding his sight (or lack thereof).

The only thing stopping me from giving this book a perfect score is that I found it somewhat predictable. There were surprising turns of events but overall I found things going along just as I was expecting. That said, it never stopped the story from being one that I couldn’t put down.

I can understand why after over a year since this book was first released, it remains in the number one on the best seller list for YA literature in Australia. It’s a beautifully written book with characters that both broke my heart and broke my face into a giant smile every so often. I’ve not read a John Green book before but after reading A Fault in Our Stars I can’t wait to check out some of his older works.

Thanks to NetGalley for the digital review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Model Spy by Shannon Greenland

Title: Model Spy (The Specialists #1)
Author: Shannon Greenland
Genre: contemporary, romance, chick lit, teen spy
Publisher: Puffin (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: December 2007
Pages: 224 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Teen genius Kelly James is in a lot of hot water. A whiz with computers, she agreed to help her college RA, David, uncover some top-secret information. After all, she doesn’t have many friends and David has always been nice to her. It doesn’t hurt that he’s supercute and irresistible, too. All she has to do is hack into the government’s main computer system. But a few hours later, her whole life changes. She is caught and taken in for questioning, only this isn’t your run-of-the-mill arrest. Rather than serve a juvenile detention sentence, she accepts the option to change her name and enlist in a secret government spy agency that trains teen agents to go undercover. As if that wasn’t overwhelming enough, she discovers that David works for this agency as well! And before she even begins to understand what is going on, she’s sent on her first mission as an undercover model. And who better to partner with than David himself!

My Review:


Kelly James is a teen hacker extraordinaire. School records, top-secret government databases – neither of them pose a problem for the sixteen year old college junior.

But when she gets caught trying to dig up some ultra sensitive information for a cute boy, Kelly gets given a choice. Join a team of teenage spies or go to juvenile detention. Easy decision. Kelly becomes the newest member of The Specialists. 

There were a number of things I liked about this book. For a book all about espionage and teenagers being able to save the world from terrorists, it had some great realism to it all. Kelly is not perfect but she’s trying. Whilst she has no problems getting computers to do whatever she wants them to she has some huge interpersonal issues.

The rest of the Specialists are interesting characters that whilst we didn’t get to see all that much in this first book I can’t help but to think they’ll be fascinating to read about in the other books of the series. I liked TL and David but they were a little two-dimensional.

In terms of plot – it was a little predictable and unbelievable. The super secret mission involves a role that only a teen model with off the charts computer skills can handle? Good thing Kelly was there to save the day. That said, I liked how everything played out. And how the rest of the team treated Kelly and her efforts.

It’s a fun story that has a family friendly vibe – refreshing in a world where most of the teen literature is PG-13.

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 

Also by Shannon Greenland:

Down to the Wire (The Specialists #2)

I read this book as a part of the 2013 TBR Reading Challenge

Book Review: Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

This review will contain spoilers from the previous five books in the series. I recommend skipping this review if you are intending on reading the Vampire Academy series.

Title: Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Magic, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: December 2010
Pages: 594
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
They come first.

My vision was growing dimmer, the blackness and ghosts closing in. I swore it was like I could hear Robert whispering in my ear: The world of the dead won’t give you up a second time. Just before the light completely vanished, I saw Dimitri’s face join Lissa’s. I wanted to smile. I decided then that if the two people I loved most were safe, I could leave this world.

The dead could finally have me.

Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardians to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose – for a crime she didn’t even commit. She’s in prison for the highest offence imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She’ll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose’s life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back…and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?

My Review:

Picking up with Spirit Bound left off, Rose Hathaway is in a LOT of trouble. On trial for a murder she didn’t commit and trying to keep the secret of her best friend’s secret sibling from her, Rose is just trying to stay alive long enough for her friends to clear her name. When everything seems impossible, the unlikeliest of allies come to her aid and together, with Dimitri, Rose risks everything she has to save the ones she loves.

I love this series – and this book is no exception. I think it’s well written with a cast of fantastic characters who are three dimensional and entertaining. Last Sacrifice gives some of the lesser characters time to shine whilst Rose is on the run. Lissa really comes into her own and becomes the royal citizen that she was always meant to be. The bond between Rose and Lissa is such a helpful tool for the reader to be in two places at once – and I much preferred how it was utilized in this novel (especially considering my dislike of the convenience of the bond in Blood Promise).

Despite Rose being a kick arse heroine and one who I really enjoyed watching develop as the series progressed – for me this series’ heart was the love story between Rose and Dimitri (and Adrian). I traditionally despise love-triangles. But I really loved how everything played out. I felt like Rose really earned the relationship and the vampire she ended up with.

This book was a satisfying conclusion to the Vampire Academy series. There’s plenty of drama, action and romance to be enjoyed and I loved how everything played out. It’s a series that I’m thrilled to have discovered this year and can recommend it to all fans of YA paranormal novels.

I’m so excited to have the first two Bloodlines books in my possession so I can start reading the adventures of Sydney, Adrian and Jill as soon as possible.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository