Book Review: The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4)

Title: The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Boarding School
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 432
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn’t over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there’s still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure—and re-education—looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this thrilling fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

My Review:

It’s no secret that the Bloodlines series is one of my favourites. And despite my reservations about the cover (I’m not a fan of Sydney’s hair….), The Fiery Heart is my favourite so far! There’s a lot going on – romantically, magically – and the extra pressure of family dynamics are wearing on Sydney. Things seem to have finally worked themselves out with her and Adrian having admitted their feelings for each other and attempting some kind of relationship. But when Sydney’s little sister now inked as an Alchemist and being tasked with helping Sydney with the vampires, the new couple are going to have to keep their romance under wraps. Adrian has his own problems – it seems impossible for him to find a happy medium between being spirit and sanity.

I was impressed with how well the dual point of view between Sydney and Adrian worked. I wasn’t sure I’d like changing things up from how the series had been going so far but it was a refreshing change to get to see what was going on from someone different. Not only that but it’s the first time in the Vampire Academy/Bloodlines series where we have had a narration from a Moroi and I liked getting to see the impacts of spirit first hand. Getting to see Sydney from Adrian’s point of view was lovely. For all the cockiness and sarcasm he may try to project to world, it was clear to see just how much he loved her and how hard he was trying to be the best person he could be – not just for her but for himself as well. We may have had to wait three books for these two to get together but it was worth it to get the interactions and beautiful dynamic that we get to see in The Fiery Heart.

There’s a lot going on but all the different story lines manage to fit together perfectly. In this book, Sydney is feeling the pressure of her family. Her sister wants her to spend more time together but between discovering her witchy magic, spending time with Adrian and sorting out the antics of her vampire charges, there never seems to be time for Sydney to breathe never mind have some girl time with Zoe. It’s never apparent to me just where Ms. Mead is going to take things next – from romantic relationships to just what the different sects of society (the Alchemists, the Warriors, the Coven)  are up to. I loved the ties in with characters we have not seen much since Vampire Academy – with Lissa asking Adrian for help and getting to see the rest of the group now a little older and wiser interacting with a more evolved Adrian.

This book has everything that I love about this series. Chemistry between the leads, interesting plots, a secondary cast of characters who add to the overall story and are entertaining to read, and dialogue that makes me feel so many different emotions. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Silver Shadows (July 2014) and am desperately eager to find out what happens to Sydney next. This book does end on a cliffhanger that’s left me anxious to see what’s ahead for these characters.

Favourite Quotes:

“Escape plan number seventeen,” I told her. “Run away and open a juice stand in Fresno.”
“Why Fresno?”
“Sounds like the kind of place people drink a lot of juice.”

“It’s Adrian Ivashkov logic. Don’t try to understand it. Just roll with it.”

“An image of Sydney’s face appeared in my mind’s eye, calm and lovely.
I believe in you.
My anxiety faded.
I took a deep breath and met the gazes of all those watching me in the room.
Who was I to do this?
I was Adrian Ivashkov.
And I was about to kick some ass.”

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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:

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Other books in the Temptation series by Karen Ann Hopkins

Temptation (Temptation #1) 

Temptation (Temptation, #1)

Belonging (Temptation #2)

Belonging

Book Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: January 2014
Pages: 304
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
For the past five years Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq.

Now they are back in town where he grew up so Hayley can go to a proper school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?

My Review:

Hayley has been helping her dad, Andy, fight the demons inside his head for years. But when things start to get even worse, Andy moves them both back to the town he grew up in to give Hayley some kind of a normal life. Preferring to be on the road than stuck in public school, Hayley tries to make the most of it for her dad’s sake but things get more difficult when people from their past and the nightmares Andy face become unavoidable. And then there’s Finn – a boy who won’t let Hayley ignore him – pushes himself into her life. 

I’ve never read a Laurie Halse Anderson novel before and I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to read The Impossible Knife of Memory. It’s a beautiful story about a teenage girl with a lot of responsibility trying to keep her small family together. She has a lot of love for her dad but she’s also scared. Scared of what might happen to him and scared for herself when the past gets a hold of him and she can’t bring him back. Hayley is a great character. She’s tough because she has needed to be and isn’t an easy person for others to get to know. It makes a lovely contrast with the effervescent Finn who calls Hayley out on her prickly nature and brings out the best in her. Together they are one of my favourite fictional couples because they both have their own problems with neither one of them being perfect however they do make each other stronger. The development of their relationship throughout the book is a strength. I loved getting to see them interact as strangers then something more and finally seeing them support each other as a couple when life gets tough. 

This is a book about relationships and in addition to the romance between Hayley and Finn, there is also the father/daughter dynamic between Hayley and Andy. It’s a hard relationship because whilst as a reader it is evident that there is a lot of love on both sides, it’s also a relationship that is dangerous and destructive for both of them. Hayley is doing all she can but it’s not enough and both she and Andy know it. Dispersed throughout Hayley’s narrative are memories from Andy’s time as a soldier. There may only be short and few however they show where Andy’s head is. I really felt for Hayley – she’s trying to do so much and this part of the novel is heartbreaking. 

The Impossible Knife of Memory is a beautifully written book. I loved how the authors described memories and situations. The relationships are heartbreaking yet there is hope and I think that’s what makes this book so emotionally draining. There is so much love and yet there is the knowledge that it might not be enough. The supporting characters being drama, distraction but ultimately help the story and Hayley along. It’s only six weeks into the year but I have no doubt that come December this book will still be among my favourites for 2014.  

 

 

 

Thanks to Text Publishing for the review copy.

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Book Review: Belonging by Karen Ann Hopkins

Belonging

Title: Belonging (Temptation #2)
Author: Karen Ann Hopkins
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 2013
Pages: 432
Rating: 1.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
I left everything I knew behind.
But it was worth it. He was worth it.

No one thought an ordinary girl like me would last two minutes living with the Amish, not even me. There are a lot more rules and a lot less freedom, and I miss my family and the life I once had. Worst of all, Noah and I aren’t even allowed to see each other. Not until I’ve proven myself.

If I can find a way to make it work, we’ll be NOAH & ROSE  together forever.

But not everybody believes this is where I belong.

My Review:

Rose knows that what she has with Noah is forever. She’s given up her English ways and is willing to become a real Amish girl if it means she can be with Noah. Trading in her dancing shoes and family for a white bonnet and life without modern technology, Rose knows that things are not going to be easy. She has to impress the community Elders before the small close knit society will even consider letting Noah court Rose. But to be with the man she loves – Rose is sure all the change and sacrifice will be worth it.

This is was an interesting read for me because by the time I finished the novel, I wasn’t sure I liked any of the characters. Rose is trying to fit in with Amish society solely for Noah. She moves in with a family and learns the ways of the women – from cooking to cleaning, mending and social expectations – there is a lot for her to take in. With her formerly supportive family now behaving as if she has joined a cult and her interactions with Noah being severely limited due to dating customs, Rose is alone in a foreign world – one where she doesn’t even speak the language. I admired Rose for the choice she made to sacrifice a lot for love and Noah however I disagree with some of the decisions she made. Despite trying to toe the line as a good Amish girl, Rose still lives in the belief that she can change Noah and convert him to the English way of life. She uses her feminine wiles on him and goes as far as making vows to a church and a faith she doesn’t believe in. I understand that Rose is young (only sixteen/seventeen throughout this book), however I believe that is old enough to understand what she’s doing. She wants the world to take her relationship with Noah seriously however there are times when she acts incredibly childish and immature. Noah on the other hand is portrayed fairly badly throughout this book. The thing he loves most about Rose is the thing that he wants to change. He is unwilling to compromise regarding Rose and his Amish beliefs and I got the feeling that his main reason for wanting to be with Rose was to get her into bed. He does some pretty terrible things – goes as far as to potentially ruin an Amish girl’s entire life just as some kind of retaliation for how Rose made him feel. I could not believe that he was telling Rose to cut ties with her family and how he couldn’t stand Rose’s opinions and frequently kissed her to shut her up.

I was disappointed at how easily it was for Noah and Rose to give up on each other. For a love that was stronger than anything else in the world, it didn’t take much to break it. Rose’s family have seemed to have done a one-eighty since the first book. They were supportive of Rose and her choices and now they behave terribly and I don’t quite understand why. We do get to see some of Sam’s (Rose’s older brother) feelings about the situation from occasional chapters told from his point of view, but it felt fairly shallow (After two months of Rose living with the Amish, he continues to burst into laughter each time he sees her new clothing but apparently still wants her away from the cultists… it just didn’t quite feel authentic). Sam’s involvement with Rose’s new friend was an interesting turn of events however added little to the overall story.

I wanted to learn more about the Amish culture from this book however I felt like it wasn’t very well explored. I think the only things I learned were the clothes were dowdy, the weddings devoid of colour and the church services extremely long.

The author took a brave move with this book – she could have written another book about star-crossed lovers who always behaved perfectly and were flawless. But these characters all have their issues and in many ways that makes them more realistic. Everyone in this book makes mistakes and I admire the author for taking that route. There are a lot of problems that the characters in this book have to face and Noah and Rose have a tough road ahead of them.

The third book of the Temptation series, Forever,  was released last month and despite my problems with Belonging, I’m still eager to see what happens next. This book left us on a slight cliff-hanger and I’m curious as to the fallout in the Amish community and just how Noah and Rose compromise to find a happy ending.  

 

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Book Review: How They Met (and Other Stories) by David Levithan

How They Met, and Other Stories

Title: How They Met (and Other Stories)
Author: David Levithan
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Short Stories
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: January 2014
Pages: 256
Rating: 3.5  stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Eighteen stories, all about love, and about all kinds of love.

From the aching for the one you pine for, to standing up and speaking up for the one you love, to pure joy and happiness, these love stories run the gamut of that emotion that at some point has turned every one of us inside out and upside down.

What is love?

With this original story collection David Levithan proves that love is a varied, complicated, addictive, wonderful thing.

My Review: 

As David Levithan says in his introduction, How They Met (and other stories) is a book of stories about love rather than love stories. Each of the eighteen short stories gives a look into different types of love and relationships. With stories about the first sparks of attraction to tales of heartbreak and parental disapproval – this anthology covers a whole range of emotions and situations.

The stories contained in How We Met feature a variety of types of relationships – from two boys falling in love to a girl being heartbroken when her girlfriend moves on and heterosexual couples and their love stories. With many of the stories, the gender of the narrator is a little ambiguous for the first few pages and I liked the vagueness. Whilst sexuality is a theme in these stories, the unclearness of the narrator made it appear that the issues faced and situations the characters are in a universal (for the most part) regardless of sexual orientation.

For me, the sum is greater than the parts. I enjoyed many of the stories but I think the strength lies in how they fit together as a compilation. The variety is fantastic and yet they all manage to come together and feel like they each belong in the same collection.

Favourite Stories: Starbucks Boy, The Number of People Who Meet on Airplanes, Princes, A Romantic Inclination. 

Favourite Quotes:

“Every two people cause and intersection.
Every person alters the world.” from Intersection

“Sallie and James had both life and the laws of physics working against them. You see, Sallie Brown and James Helprin were good friends.
Which adds a certain friction to our equation.” from A Romantic Inclination

“You have to believe there are kisses and laughs and risks worth taking”

 

Thanks to Text Publishing for the review copy.

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Book Review: Almost Dead by Kaz Delaney

Almost Dead

Title: Almost Dead
Author: Kaz Delaney
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Ghosts, Paranormal, Mystery, Young Adult
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: January 2014
Pages: 400
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Macey’s life has been turned upside down. Her mother has left, her father is absent and her two best friends (her brother Seth and his girlfriend Willow) are MIA. On top of that Macey is being visited by ghosts who need her help to ‘move on’. But as wild as all that sounds, it’s all under Macey’s control until a rakish, good-looking spirit called Nick turns up … in her bedroom!

Nick’s a spirit with spirit who insists he’s not dead, he’s astral travelling and has a message for Macey: someone is out to get her. Macey’s biting wit has got her in trouble before, so she’s not surprised but when the threatening notes start turning up, she’s seriously shaken. Does someone want her dead?

It’s all rather disturbing but she’s finding it hard to focus on who could mean her harm with the annoyingly handsome surf god Finn turning up at the most inopportune times and a father with a rather large surprise of his own.

Is it a case of bad timing? Or are these things somehow connected? And if they are, what on earth should she wear when she’s solving the mystery?

My Review:

Power, love, hate, bad language tears and great shoes. Just another day at RTHS, really…

Macey Pentecost is getting used to seeing ghosts. When the spirit of a cute almost rock star Nick appears in her bedroom, Macey learns that is more than just ghosts out there. Nick isn’t dead. He’s had an accident and is in a coma but feels that he needs to protect Macey from something out there. Threats aside, Macey’s family life is in turmoil. Her mother has abandoned her and her father has some secrets of his own. Lucky for her, Macey meets Finn – surfer god extraordinaire who is willing to help get to the bottom of who is tormenting Macey and just how Nick is connected to it all.

I thought Almost Dead was a fun read. There is mystery, ghosts and romance topped off with plenty of high school drama. Macey is a privileged and feisty seventeen year old (on first impressions, she’s a bit of a mean girl) who has many vulnerabilities deep down. When creepy things start happening to her, she doesn’t run and hide but uses all the resources at her fingertips to try to track down the villain. It took me a while to warm to Macey. She’s blunt and (dare I say) a tad spoilt but after getting into the story and coming to understand her I realized that her frank ways are a defence mechanism. She’s loyal to her friends and (after a while) acts rather maturely in very difficult family circumstances.

The secondary characters are interesting and I liked how they interacted with Macey – I adored how Nick didn’t bow down to Macey and didn’t allow her to dismiss him. Felicity, Finn and Madame Zordastramus all add something extra to the story and I enjoyed getting to know more about them as Macey’s story unfolded. The mystery in this book was great. It’s one that I didn’t see coming till right near the end but once everything was explained it made perfect sense! The supernatural elements of ghosts and spirits was handled with humour and were entertaining to read.

Almost Dead is a companion novel to Dead, Actually (also by Kaz Delaney) and as such shares a setting and many characters but you don’t need to have read Dead, Actually in order to enjoy Almost Dead.

 

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

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Book Review: Suddenly You by Cecilia Gray

Suddenly You (The Jane Austen Academy Series, #4)

Title: Suddenly You (The Jane Austen Academy #4)
Author: Cecilia Gray
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, Retelling
Publisher: Gray Life LLC
Publication Date: November 6th, 2013
Pages: 145
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Fanny doesn’t want to be at The Jane Austen Academy. She intends to lay low until graduation when she can try out for the Olympic track team. She doesn’t need friends or love. She only needs her running.

But The Academy is in danger. In an effort to save it, Fanny joins forces with the friends she never knew she wanted. Suddenly, Fanny finds herself center stage in the middle of the Academy’s biggest love triangle as the lead in the school play…only this track star can’t afford to break a leg.

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…

My Review:

Fanny Sato is very competitive – and she has to be if she wants to achieve her dream of becoming an Olympic athlete. With the rumours of the Jane Austen Academy closing down, Fanny and the other girls try everything they can to keep their beloved school open. Even if it means focused Fanny trying out for the main role in the school play. With her once ordered life getting more complicated by the day, Fanny doesn’t need the extra pressure of being an actress. Gaining the attention of the leading man and having unplanned and somewhat perplexing feelings for a gorgeous boy who is more than willing to get up to mischief and mayhem at Fanny’s bequest is not something that happens to people like Fanny. Solitary by nature, Fanny’s starting to be overwhelmed with people and their problems – can she keep her mind on her own goals whilst still being there for her new friends?

With each book in this series, I like the idea more and more. Jane Austen’s heroines all existing in the same school and supporting each other. The characters are great and Suddenly You is my favourite book from the series so far. Fanny is determined and willing to whatever it takes to get where she wants to be. Her relations with her friends and family are somewhat strained as she keeps her secrets to herself so that nothing can get in the way of her dream. And then Tran happened. I loved Tran. He’s the somewhat dangerous bad boy who doesn’t blink an eye at the opportunity for a little break and entering. He brings out the best in Fanny and their journey in this book was a pleasure to read.

I’ve not read Mansfield Park (the Jane Austen novel which Suddenly You is a modern day retelling of) and I think in many ways I enjoyed it more having no idea what was going to happen. There’s a lot of characters popping up again from the previous books in the Jane Austen Academy series and I’m still impressed with just how wonderfully Cecilia Gray makes them fit (although I’m starting to wonder just how much longer she plans on torturing a certain misunderstood movie star!). This series is fun and the books are all quick and easy to read.

Emma’s book is next (Only With You coming out later this year) and I’m looking forward to see just how everything turns out for the fashionista.

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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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:

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Book Review: Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Suite Scarlett (Scarlett, #1)

Title: Suite Scarlett (Scarlett #1)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Chick Lit
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: November 2013 (first published May 2008)
Pages: 368
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
If living in a famous art deco hotel minutes away from Central Park sounds like your idea of a pretty sweet deal – you should talk to Scarlett Martin. Having a hotel for a home really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially when you’ve got no guests, no money and no prospects for any fun thanks to your parents putting you to work all summer. Luckily for Scarlett, the Hopewell is about to be shaken to its foundations with the arrival of Mrs Amberson, a glamorous travelling socialite who’s planning on putting down some roots for a while – and hiring Scarlett as her assistant. With a new job, new friends, and (maybe) a new boyfriend on the horizon, Scarlett’s summer is beginning to look a lot more interesting…

My Review:

If all the world’s a stage, New York City has the best scenery.

Scarlett Martin’s friends are all having the summer of their lives but she is stuck in working in her family’s run down and barely functioning hotel. When a slightly eccentric guest checks in and appoints Scarlett as her personal assistant, Scarlett’s summer starts to look up. She gets involved with trying to save her brother’s acting career and has a flirtation with a gorgeous North Carolinian named Eric. But things start to fall apart around her and Scarlett needs the help of her family to help everything from becoming a disaster.

I’ve not read a Maureen Johnson novel before but quickly found myself absorbed in Scarlett’s story. The book begins on her fifteenth birthday but Scarlett is fairly wise and mature for her age. She’s a little irritated that she doesn’t have the opportunities that her friend have but she is responsibly enough to understand that her family isn’t like others. Her older brother Spencer is trying to do everything he possibly can to become an actor however realistically he knows that if he doesn’t make it soon he will need to find a more sensible career path. Lola, Scarlett’s older sister, is facing a dilemma due to her family disliking her boyfriend and her little sister Marlene – well… Marlene is slightly spoilt and people are afraid of hurting her feelings. I really liked the family dynamic within this novel. The Martin family are tight but not without their problems. They are financially challenged and things are changing with Scarlett’s older siblings after having finished high school and are now moving in different directions. I liked how they interacted with each other and that Ms. Johnson didn’t give Marlene a free pass to do as she pleased just because of her past.

Scarlett is a great character. She’s a writer who, despite her tender age, isn’t lacking for life experience. Her encounters with Mrs Amberson are humorous with the hotel guest having a flair for the dramatic. Scarlett gets herself into some quite outlandish situations but somehow manages to handle them. I liked that Scarlett is genuinely a good person. She gets placed in situations – at times due to her own doing – that cause her to question her actions and as a reader you could feel the moral dilemmas she was facing. This is a book where I felt with 97% certainty that things were going to end up being okay for everyone involved but the fun was seeing just how everything turned out. The romance in this book wasn’t quite what I was expecting but that only added to the realistic nature that love doesn’t always play out how you’d like it to.

This book was highly enjoyable. It’s cute and fun and shows off New York City in a delightful way. The characters are quirky and a little off centre but there’s a lot of love in the Martin family. I’m delighted that Maureen Johnson has written a second novel, Scarlett Fever, that continues exploring Scarlett’s adventures.

Thanks to Hot Key Books for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon| Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska

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

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

After. Nothing is ever the same.

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Favourite Quotes:

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

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

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

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

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld