Book Review + Giveaway: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Today I get to share with you all my review for the third and final book in the Juliette Chronicles, Ignite Me. Allen & Unwin have generously offered on copy for me to giveaway (open to residents of Australia and New Zealand) so please be sure to check out the end of this post for more information on how to win. 

Title: Ignite Me (The Juliette Chronicles #3)Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: 1st March 2014
Pages: 416
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The exciting and chilling conclusion to the internationally successful Juliette Chronicles series. With Omega Point destroyed,
Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for
all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. He
promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world … but that’s not all he wants with her

My Review:

Juliette is more determined than ever to stop the Reestablishment. Her friends are missing and she presumes them to be dead. Her only ally is Warner – the same man who imprisoned her and caused her no end of psychological trauma only a few months ago. But with his military resources and belief in her, Juliette is stronger than she has been before. And her resolve to bring down the Supreme is as strong and determined as her powers.

I think enjoyment from this book comes down to expectations. I have read both the full length novels in this series (Shatter Me and Unravel Me) and I liked them. Juliette as a character has grown so much. She was fragile and let the world trample on her but now she is strong and holds all the power. Nothing can hurt her unless she lets it. I thought it was great to see her grow and evolve throughout the series and I liked how the writing itself displayed her development. No more things she wishes she was brave enough to say aloud any more. She is in control.

But I was expecting more than a romance. And for most of this book – that’s what I got. Juliette finds herself in a situation where she finds she has feelings for her former tormentor, Warner. The same man who kept her against her will and forced her to unwilling harm a little boy. While all the bad things he does are explained and despite Juliette being able to forgive him – I couldn’t. But I also couldn’t quite correlate the behaviour of Adam Kent from previous books to now. Whilst I liked that this book is different. It’s not just the first boy she sees is her one and only, the progression didn’t feel right to me. It was a little convenient that the Adam of Shatter Me had disappeared completely just when Juliette found herself having feelings for Warner.

Action wise, I was a little disappointed too. There is a lot of build up. Lots of training and getting things in place. But when everything finally kicks off in the last fifty pages or so, it is a little anticlimactic. I was expecting a lot and felt it didn’t live up to my expectations. So much more could have happened and I felt a little let down by the execution of the ending.

Whilst this book didn’t live up to my expectations – I can see why others would enjoy where Mafi takes the story. There’s romance and character development and some great comic relief in Kenji. Ignite Me is well written and creative.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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GIVEAWAY!

Thanks to Allen & Unwin

I have

1 print edition of Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi to giveaway

**Open to  Australian and New Zealand Residents only**

Please leave a comment on this post to enter and then

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

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Book Review: Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

Unbreakable ( The Legion #1), Kami Garcia

Title: Unbreakable (The Legion #1)
Author: Kami Garcia
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Ghosts, Young Adult
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 320
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Kennedy Waters didn’t believe in ghosts, until one tried to kill her.

When Kennedy finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that evil forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into her house and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon – a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon – battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures novels

My Review:

Kennedy lives in her safe little world with her mother, her best friend, her cat named Elvis and a room full of art supplies. But one day after her cat runs away, Kennedy finds herself in a graveyard and everything changes. Her mother dies mysteriously and Kennedy sees things that shouldn’t be there – ghostly things. When brothers, Jared and Lukas Lockhart show up, Kennedy is drawn into a world of paranormal spirits and the Legion – a group of five seemingly unconnected individuals with ghost hunting skills being passed down from generation to generation.

Kennedy isn’t the most likely person to become a ghost hunter. She’s content with her life. Her mother loves her and makes her pancakes. Her best friend Elle takes care of Kennedy’s social life organizing group outings and double dates. Her dad might be out of the picture and her boyfriend may have recently broken her heart but over all – things are good for Kennedy Waters. And then a ghost tries to kill her and her mother is murdered by a demon. In many ways this book feels like it’s trying to pick up the Supernatural TV show vibe but it misses the mark with me.

Unbreakable reads a little young at times. Kennedy is seventeen but someone could be forgiven for thinking she’s several years younger for most of the book. But she does grow up – somewhere between first meeting the girl in the white dress and joining the Legion – and the story gets more enjoyable.

The rest of the characters are fun to read. There are the Lockhart twins, Lucas and Jared, both with an interest in Kennedy, the technological genius Priest, and Alara – the privileged goth girl who bankrolls the adolescent ghost hunters. Each come with their own unique set of skills and interesting back stories for the reader to discover as the novel unfolds. There’s interesting plot that develops but at times it felt unplanned and hurried. The way the teens find each piece of the puzzle often felt bizarre and almost accidental. The love triangle felt convenient and not a situation where I cared which way Kennedy decided.

Overall this is an interesting read but I won’t be continuing with the series. I didn’t feel emotionally involved with what will happen next nor with the characters themselves. In many ways I felt like this book was trying to imitate the first season of Supernatural the TV show but fell a little short.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster and The Reading Room for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Forever by Karen Ann Hopkins

Forever (Temptation, #3)

Title: Forever (Temptation #3)
Author: Karen Ann Hopkins
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Culture, Last in a series
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: January 2014
Pages: 336
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
All I want is my happily-ever-after.
That’s all I’ve wanted since meeting Noah Miller.

From the day we met, the world has tried to keep Noah and me from being together, but now that I’m carrying his child, no one will be able to tear us apart. Or so I hope. But Noah and I have made some mistakes along the way, and the consequences are impacting the people we love. Worse, there’s a storm on the horizon, and it’s sure to cause serious devastation.

If we can get through this, we’ll finally be Rose and Noah; a family, forever.
But first we have to survive the road ahead. And happily-ever-after is a long way off.

My Review:

Rose and Noah have overcome so much – their cultural differences, their families and now they may have a chance at happily ever after. Except that for these young lovers, the course of true love never did run smoothly. It might seem a little odd that after the low rating I gave the previous book (Belonging) that I have continued on with this series but there is something oddly compelling about Rose and Noah’s story. They may have a selfish and tumultuous relationship with a lot of emotion however I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next for the star-crossed pair.

With Rose finding out she’s pregnant, everything is different. She is confused. After experiencing Amish culture for six months she’s not sure that it would be the best place for her baby. Trying the keep the secret from her father and Noah isn’t easy but at least she has her big brother Sam and her best friend Summer to help her though. With the point of view shifting between Rose and Noah and the occasional chapter being told by Sam and new narrator, Noah’s sister Sarah, Forever is an interesting read.

I wasn’t entirely happy with Rose finding out she was pregnant. And for the most part I found Rose’s story in Forever to be fairly boring because of this. She spends a lot of time trying to hide her pregnancy and apparently considering her options. But I never really felt like she was weighing up any decision. She was understandably scared but I doubt anyone was the slightest surprised by what Rose finally decides. Noah’s story was more interesting with a lot of drama unfolding from his decision to break his engagement with Constance – an Amish girl he courted and proposed to just to hurt Rose. I’m still not a fan of his actions in the previous book but I liked that there were repercussions. And not just for Noah – but for his entire family and friends.

This novel has heartbreak and I was shocked by one of the storylines. I was surprised by how much I had grown to anticipate a certain relationship and was a little devastated when events came to pass. However for the most part I thought this book was fairly predictable but I was never quite sure when the things I was expecting to happen would occur.

Overall – this hasn’t been one of my favourite reads. The characters are overwrought by emotion and the idea that no sacrifice is too large when it comes to love. The two main characters spend most of the series trying to convince the other to give up their family and beliefs for their relationship and neither seem to be all that understanding about anyone else’s’ feelings. The ending of the series is a little… too happy with everything somehow working out so very neatly and somewhat unbelievably. I don’t believe that this book shows off Amish culture in the best light and I’m still curious about this group of people. If you are looking for an emotional read about all-consuming young love and who will do anything to be together then I recommend this series. On the other hand if you like a bit more realism to your relationships and don’t enjoy selfish characters maybe this series is not for you.

 Thanks to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Other books in the Temptation series by Karen Ann Hopkins

Temptation (Temptation #1) 

Temptation (Temptation, #1)

Belonging (Temptation #2)

Belonging

Book Review: When I’m With You by Cecilia Gray

When I’m With You (The Jane Austen Academy Series, #3)

Title: When I’m With You (The Jane Austen Academy #3)
Author: Cecilia Gray
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, Retelling
Publisher: Gray Life LLC
Publication Date: December 22nd, 2012
Pages: 147
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Kat is destined to be a star and her big break has arrived at last! As the assistant to a celebrity classmate on the set of a feature film, she’s going to show everyone she has what it takes. That is, until she discovers pursuing her dreams may mean forfeiting her heart. Unless she can find a way to have both…

The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is guys. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And they’re about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…

Dive into the fabulous, fun lives of six Academy girls as their friendships are tested, torn and ultimately triumph.

My Review:

Kat Morley was born to be a star. She’s been the lead in the Jane Austen Academy school plays every spring and fall since she joined and she knows that she has what it takes to be a famous actress. When she’s given the chance to be a personal assistant to a fellow student and get to spend her winter break on a real life film set, Kat jumps at the chance. This might be her opportunity to get her big break. Cute boys, diva starlets and the pesky paparazzi threaten to ruin Kat’s break and Kat is left to wonder if being an actor is all she imagines it to be.

When I’m With You is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. I studied the original text at university as part of a gothic literature class and whilst I never imagined the story on the set of a Californian film, it works surprisingly well. Kat is curious and hard-working. Her single-minded focus towards her goal is admirable yet makes her somewhat unapproachable by the other students. I liked the cast of characters that she met on set. Josh Wickham makes another appearance in this series – and I think it’s terrific how Cecilia Gray has used him as yet another Austen character whilst still maintaining him as believable and consistent with what readers of the Jane Austen Academy series have come to expect from the previous books. Izzy Engel and Henry Trenton are great too, each for their own reasons.

One thing I didn’t particularly enjoy about this book was Kat’s naivety. I didn’t believe it nor did I find it in tune with who I believed her to be as a character. I understand that in the original Jane Austen story, Catherine Morley’s innocent view of the world was how a lot of the plot was driven but due to some of the other differences between these two characters I just didn’t believe Kat to be that trusting. I didn’t quite understand why certain things happened and I feel like those events were just so it would be in tandem with Northanger Abbey.

This book is cute and charming. I like that it can be read without having knowledge of the book it’s based on – and perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I had not been subconsciously comparing the two. The romance is adorable (I loved Henry’s hats!) and despite this book being mostly set away from the Academy, there is still the unspoken camaraderie between the girls – even if Kat doesn’t quite realize it yet. Despite my low rating of this book, I do enjoy the series and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

Book Review: The Disgrace of Kitty Grey by Mary Hooper

The Disgrace of Kitty Grey

Title: The Disgrace of Kitty Grey
Author: Mary Hooper
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing 
Publication Date: June 2013
Pages: 288
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Kitty has a comfortable life as a country milkmaid. She is well looked after by the family who live up at the great house, and she enjoys being courted by Will Villiers, the handsome river man. Then one day, Will vanishes

Kitty is heartbroken, and when sent to London on an errand she is determined to track down Will. But, alone and vulnerable in the vast city, Kitty’s fate is snatched out of her hands and she is plunged into a dizzying spiral of despair…

My Review:

Kitty Grey is happy with her life. She looks after five gorgeous milk cows, has plenty of free time and is in the start of a lovely romance with Will the Ferryman. But Will dreams of more than just living in Devonshire. He’s keen to go to London and earn his fortune so that he will be a man Kitty can be proud of.

When Kitty discovers Will is missing and all his belongings are gone too, she’s furious. When she gets given a chance to run an errand in London, Kitty is eager to go to the city and track Will down. But what greets her is nothing at all like she expected.

I had high hopes for The Disgrace of Kitty Grey. I’ve read some of Mary Hooper’s contemporary novels before but this is the first historical novel of hers that I read. It’s got a lot of charm. From the first few pages when Kitty gets asked to assist the young Misses in their quest to create a tableau vivant complete with live cows I knew it was going to be an entertaining novel. And it had some great points. I enjoyed the differences between modern life and the world Kitty lives in. There are some lovely contrasts of Kitty’s idyllic life in Devonshire and the world she experiences in the city of London.

Where this novel fell short for me was in the intensity of Kitty’s emotions. She has to face some tragic circumstances and throughout it all she never sheds a tear. I needed to feel more from Kitty in order to enjoy the story more. Another shortcoming of this novel was the incredible coincidences that occur – it made this story feel less realistic with just how impossible some of the situations were.

Beautifully researched, The Disgrace of Kitty Grey was a lovely book to read with a strong heroine but lacked a lot of emotion.

 

Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Kiss of Fire by Rebecca Ethington

Kiss of Fire (Imdalind #1)

Title: Kiss of Fire (Imdalind series #1)
Author: Rebecca Ethington
Genre: Paranormal romance, magic, young adult
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: October 2012
Pages: 352
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Joclyn Despain has been marred by a brand on her skin. She doesn’t know why the mark appeared on her neck, but she doesn’t want anyone to see it, including her best friend Ryland, who knows everything else about her. The scar is the reason she hides herself behind baggy clothes, and won’t let the idea of kissing Ryland enter her mind, no matter how much she wants to.
The scar is the reason she is being hunted.

If only she knew that she was.

If only she had known that the cursed stone her estranged father sent for her 16th birthday would trigger a change in her. Now, she is being stalked by a tall blonde man, and is miraculously throwing her high school bully ten feet in the air.

Joclyn attempts to find some answers and the courage to follow her heart. When Ryland finds her scar; only he knows what it means, and who will kill her because of it.

My Review:

After being bitten by a mysterious bug when she was five years old, Joclyn spent six months in a coma. Upon waking up she has a very strange scar on her neck and her eyes have changed colour. Her father can’t cope with the bizarre mark on her neck and leaves. To try to make ends meet, Joclyn’s mother takes a job as a cook for the wealthy Edmund. It’s there that Jos meets his son, Ryland. From that moment on the two are inseparable. Eleven years later the two are still best friends despite Ryland’s father threatening them to stay apart. On Jos’ sixteenth birthday she gets a letter from her father claiming that he knows the secret behind her scar – and it involves magic.

This summary has one of my pet peeves – it alludes to things that don’t happen until half way though the book! You can’t do that! But I can understand why they did it. Kiss of Fire is fairly slow to start. We get to see a lot about Jos – who she is and how she got that way, as well as her relationship with Ryland. The magic element isn’t fully developed until the second half of the book and I think that was a little too long. I found my attention drifting at parts. The character of Jos did frustrate me at times. She’s got no insight and it felt like she always needed someone to hold her hand. Her relationship with Ryland was sweet and I do love to read about fated mates however it felt odd – one day best friends and the next Ry is trying to kiss her with no in between? But this is a story with magic so maybe I should blame it on witchcraft.

The characters of Wyn and her ‘brother’ are interesting and I love Wyn’s effervescent personality but I felt like the brother was a heart beat away from being a love interest for Jos and I feel having a love triangle would detract from the strong bond that Wyn and Ry share.

I feel a little like a nitpicker but there was one thing about this story that really niggled at me. BFFs for eleven years – doing all sorts of crazy things that kids get up to and not once did Ryland see the scar on Jos’ neck. And yet, one afternoon of hairography with Wyn and she can see the mark that Wyn’s been so protective about showing off? I just find it a little hard to believe that he never once saw it especially how attentive he is to her every move.

The magic and creatures involved in this book are cool – I love that the author has gone and writing a paranormal novel without the usual monsters. From the birth stones, to the powers they have, these are cool creatures.

Kiss of Fire has a lot of twists and turns with a fairly exciting climax and a great lead in to the second novel however my disconnection with the characters and dislike of Jos will keep me from continuing this series.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

Book Review: Banish by Nicola Marsh

Banish

Title: Banish
Author: Nicola Marsh
Genre: Paranormal, Magic, Young Adult, Contemporary 
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: August 2013
Pages: 272
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Alyssa has one week to destroy her enemy, save her spirit… and save her soul.

After her ex-boyfriend commits suicide and her mum’s alcoholism sparks yet another psychotic episode, seventeen-year-old Alyssa Wood flees her small hometown of Broadwater and heads to New York City to stay with her bohemian aunt — a Wicca High Priestess.

Alyssa revels in the anonymity of a big city and her new life. Her grades climb, she has a new best friend, and a new guy: the sexy geek Ronan — a saxophone player who prefers jazz to pop.

But her newfound peace is soon shattered when she sees a dead body in one of Ronan’s music clips — and she’s the only one who can see it. Worse still, Alyssa recognises the body that has been murdered a week forward!

Alyssa doesn’t believe in the supernatural…despite her family’s Wicca background. So how will she overcome evil when it’s closer than she thinks?

My Review:

There’s a lot to like about Nicola Marsh’s YA debut – a strong heroine, a mystery which I couldn’t wait to see how it was solved, some romance and a great kind of magic. Alyssa has been through a lot.  Her boyfriend killed himself the day after they broke up and her mother is an alcoholic who hears voices – NYC with her high priestess aunt has to be better than the memories in Broadwater. But it seems that Alyssa can’t outrun her past. Her new life meets her old when she sees a video set one week in the future of a dead girl. Her new boyfriend Ronan thinks that maybe Lyssa’s aunt is responsible but the strange keeps popping up – a weird séance, jewellery which should be buried and other mysterious goings on. Alyssa needs to banish the bad that’s following her and try to save the girl before this bad magic following her takes her too.

I was excited to read this book because I love reading YA by Australian authors. The fact that Banish is set in the US was a little disappointing to me. Whist I thought Marsh did a great job of writing this city into the book I would have loved it just a little more had it been set in Australia.

I found Alyssa hard to connect with and as a result I found myself uninterested and not invested in just how things would end up for her. She’s blunt – and understandably so considering her history. But I didn’t like how rude she was to those trying to help her and her attitude towards people. She has expectations from people but doesn’t communicate to others what she wants or needs and because of this they don’t behave as she would like and she gets annoyed with them. Her constant disapproval of her aunt’s interest in the supernatural, her mother’s alcoholism and her boyfriend taking his own life was reiterated a little too often for my liking. It seemed like by the end of the novel there was only one thing I knew about each of those characters because it was the only thing Alyssa told us about them. I wasn’t a huge fan of the relationship between Alyssa and Ronan and I felt low to no chemistry between them but I liked that despite their relationship being new – it wasn’t perfect and that added a layer of realism to it.

The plot is slightly predictable but I was genuinely surprised by the motivation behind WHY the villain was tormenting Alyssa and I thought that the ending was a satisfying one. The highlight of this book to me was the type of magic used – it brought me back to my days watching Charmed. I’ll be keeping an eye out for any other YA titles Marsh writes however if Banish turns into a series it’s not one I think I’ll continue reading.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia| Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: What Endures by Katie Lee

What Endures

Title: What Endures
Author: Katie Lee
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult,
Publisher: self published
Publication Date: 1st August 2013
Pages: 346
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Jason Kincaid is young, hot and successful.
An All-Star outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, he finally had everything he ever wanted, including a second chance with his high school sweetheart, Megan Williams.
But their hopes for a ‘happily-ever-after’ are dashed by tragedy.
A horrific car accident wipes out most of Jason’s memories. Unable to recall anything from the last fifteen years of his life, Jason is suddenly adrift, his once charmed life now in ruins.

Megan finds herself in the untenable position of having to deal with the fact that the man she’s helping to rebuild his life may look, and even act, like her beloved fiancé, but in reality, isn’t any longer.
Trying to protect herself, as well as Jason, Megan fights the attraction between them. . .to no avail. As their potent connection inevitably draws them closer, Megan wonders,
With the memories of their relationship gone, can love endure?

My Review:

I read this book because I was told it was new adult – it isn’t. Megan may be 26 years old but she’s not at the stage in life that I associate with new adult heroines. She’s established in her career and whilst Jason may be her first true love – they’re not newly together. They’ve been married, have lived together for years and – prior to the accident – are on the way to happily ever after.

There were moments where I thought this book could somehow bring the adult characters together with their new adult selves – with flashbacks and memories of how life was like when they first got together and all the trials their relationship had to go through – but those memories were few and far between.

I like the idea behind this book. It’s very much like the movie The Vow (which I know was based on a memoir but I haven’t read it). True love derailed by amnesia. However I didn’t like the characters very much. Megan is a little too well liked but too willing to walk away from hard work. It didn’t make sense considering the back story that’s revealed throughout the novel. Jason is rather unlikable – I found nothing endearing about him in the slightest and I think therein lies my biggest problem. I need to want a couple to be together to like a romance novel. But Jason had no redeeming qualities so to be honest – I didn’t really care one way or another if they ended up together.

There are good things about this book. Tyler – one of the supporting characters – is entertaining and I’d be interesting in reading a spinoff about him and his own issues.

Overall, this book was a little predictable. The characters go around in circles and when they’re no doing that, they’re not making a lot of sense. But if you like the main characters of Megan and Jason, I can see that this would be a sweet romantic read.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

Book Review: Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

Flirting in Italian (Flirting in Italian #1)

Title: Flirting in Italian (Flirting in Italian #1)
Author: Lauren Henderson
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Europe, Mystery
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 12 June 2012
Pages: 336
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!

My Review:

The cover is cute, the blurb – adorable. The novel? Something I didn’t expect. (Note: The blurb I’m referring to on the back of my copy is a quote from one of the girls about super hot boys – nothing about mysteries, danger and castles)

I wanted to read this book because when I was sixteen, I spent the summer in Italy – an Australian summer which turns out to be a very freezing European winter. But none the less – I read this book to reminisce and I feel a little cheated. I was expecting a fluffy but fun read about teen romance, boys and the Italian sun. What I got was a contradictory heroine, a bizarre mystery and boys that I found to be a little more creepy than charming.

The story starts with Violet (whose name we don’t find out until page 25 and that’s after a rather long deep and meaningful with mother… names just never came up. Weird, huh?) browsing a museum. When she comes across a painting where the subject is her doppelgänger – Violet is flawed. This is not just a case of slight similarity… the woman in the portrait could be Violet’s identical twin! That is – if Violet lived hundreds of years ago and came from Tuscany – where the painting is said to have been originally painted. Feeling like she never really belonged in her family – but apparently too polite to ask her mother if she was adopted, Violet manages to get her absent father to fund her trip to the Italian country side so she can go to a finishing school. Why you might ask? Because the castle where the painting of Violet’s spitting image apparently originated from is not open to the public – except, that is, for the students at the cultural course that Violet is enrolled in. And by culture course – I mean finishing school complete with flower arranging.

It’s in Italy that Violet meets Luca – a local boy with whom she feels an instant connection. And he’s got a vespa – what more could an English girl want? Oh that’s right. He also happens to be the son of the castle where her carbon copy’s painting is from. Convenient, right? Oh – we’re just getting started!

I wanted to love this book. I was so excited when I finally got my hands on a copy. And it’s possible that I would have enjoyed this story had my expectations not been so high but I don’t think this is the case with Flirting in Italian. Violet got on my nerves from the beginning. By page 12, she had already contradicted herself and she continued to do so right though the novel. She’s very intolerant of others and I thought she had quite a few double standards. I have to admit I was rather annoyed at her for how she treated her mother throughout the novel. I think that Henderson was trying to capture the teenage state of mind whenever she started in on embarrassing parents or fashion but in the end – it felt out-of-place.

And then there’s Luca. The oh-so-hot Italian local that Violet finds an instant attraction with. So much so that she finds herself in a passionate embrace with him within minutes of meeting him. Now – don’t get me wrong. I’m not a prude. My problem lies with Violet and her considering her behaviour to be perfectly okay because they’re like… soul mates – but for the other girls attending the Cultural Course with her – flirting with boys they just met – what hussies! See – Violet has many double standards. And the chemistry between Luca and Violet? I didn’t see it. I kept wanting to like them as a couple and hoping that something would happen to them relationshipwise for me to get behind them as a couple. But it never happened. It probably would have been easier to like them together if Violet didn’t keep switching between hating him and wanting to slap him and then daydreaming about him and how amazing he is in the space of a heart beat. MAKE UP YOUR MIND ALREADY! I don’t need a romance to like a book and I think I’d prefer no relationship at all to one that is this high maintenance and confusing.

As for the enigma of the girl in the painting? It was a confusing storyline. To be honest – this entire novel felt a little undercooked. I get that it’s only the first novel and that things need time to brew and develop but there’s a bit too much mystery and not enough solving.

This book is the first one in a trilogy and I think that potentially, the things that irked me in it could be straightened out by reading further. But to be honest I feel like the marketing people were a little dishonest. The blurb, the cover – none of this really show what this book is going to be about. In fact I think they were deliberately misleading readers as to the contents of this novel. Considering the second book is called “Kissing in Italian” I’m not sure I’m going to be pleased with where this leads. I will not be reading any more of this series.

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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.

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Amazon