Category Archives: Reviews

Book Review: Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy

May 11, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-LowyMe Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy
Published by Simon Pulse on 24th March 2015
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 656
Goodreads
four-half-stars
A heartfelt, humorous story of a teen boy’s impulsive road trip after the shock of his lifetime—told entirely in lists!

Darren hasn't had an easy year.

There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.

Then one Thursday morning Darren's dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.

Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy's debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is:

1. painful
2. unavoidable
3. ridiculously complicated
4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.

3 Perfectly valid reasons why you should read Me Being Me:

1) The Format
It’s written in list form, which I absolutely loved. (And obviously inspired the style of this review!) It made reading Me Being Me such a breeze, and made it super easy to slip in and out of the book, although I found myself struggling to put the book down with the promise of “just one more list” all too alluring! The lists are a nice mixture of short and sweet and chunkier points, and these really helped with the pacing of the story.

2) The Characters
Darren is a wonderful narrator and I couldn’t help but like him. He has a ton of shit to deal with, he’s trying to cope with his parent’s divorce, his brother has gone away to college and he doesn’t really have any friends. Then his dad drops this huge bombshell and it’s understandable why Darren reacts as he does. Darren’s relationship with both his parents is so well written and just plain wonderful, it’s realistic, natural and both his parents are so present. There’s no missing parent syndrome in this book, they play a huge role in Darren’s life, and you have no idea how wonderful it was to read. I also want to give a huge shoutout to Ray, because he was a character who Darren should have struggled to get along with, but he didn’t. I wish there had been more Ray in the book, because I loved him. And Zoe, who isn’t all that present throughout the book, but has a huge role in the story anyway was a character who I probably should have hated, but I didn’t. I can’t talk too much about her, but I just loved her character and her interactions with Darren. I wanted to see more of them together, but I understand why we weren’t given that.

3) The Ending
There was this wonderful openness about the ending, which I normally hate with a passion because I want to know EVERYTHING about the characters’ futures, but with Me Being Me, the open ending worked perfectly. I already know what will happen with Darren and Zoe, in my head at least, and I love how Hasak-Lowy ended it.

1 Thing I’d like to say to Todd Hasak-Lowy:
THANK YOU FOR NOT MAKING COUNSELLING THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL. It’s appreciated a lot.

Book Review: September Sky by John A. Heldt

April 27, 2015

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: September Sky by John A. HeldtSeptember Sky by John A Heldt
Series: American Journey #1
Published by Self-Published on 1st January 2015
Source: Author
Pages: 409
Goodreads
four-stars
When unemployed San Francisco reporter Chuck Townsend and his college-dropout son, Justin, take a cruise to Mexico in 2016, each hopes to rebuild a relationship after years of estrangement. But they find more than common ground aboard the ship. They meet a mysterious lecturer who touts the possibilities of time travel. Within days, Chuck and Justin find themselves in 1900, riding a train to Texas, intent on preventing a distant uncle from being hanged for a crime he did not commit. Their quick trip to Galveston, however, becomes long and complicated when they wrangle with business rivals and fall for two beautiful librarians on the eve of a hurricane that will destroy the city. Filled with humor, history, romance, and heartbreak, SEPTEMBER SKY follows two directionless souls on the adventure of a lifetime as they try to make peace with the past, find new purpose, and grapple with the knowledge of things to come.

There’s one thing I can quite confidently say about John Heldt: his books never disappoint me. September Sky introduces us to a whole new range of time-travellers, and took us on an unforgettable journey to 1900’s America.

I did wonder whether September Sky would hold my interest in the same way the Northwest Passage series did. On paper, the books sound so similar, but upon reading, this certainly isn’t the case. I loved how time travel was introduced in September Sky – it wasn’t accidentally stumbled upon, but explained and presented to Chuck and Justin by Professor Bell, who I reckon may play a larger role in future books. Maybe he’ll even have his own book? Who knows!

I didn’t expect to love 1900’s America, but I surprised myself by becoming so invested in Chuck and Justin’s travels, and the characters they swiftly became attached to. Of all the characters we were introduced to from the past, my favourite had to be little Anna, Emily’s sister who Justin immediately fell in love with, even if it did take Emily longer to warm to Justin! Their romance was so sweet, as was Chuck and Charlotte’s. It wasn’t the romances that really took me though, but the thought that a murder was going to take place, and Chuck’s determination to make sure that his long-distant relative wasn’t charged with the murder again. I honestly didn’t guess who the murderer was, and I was so, so shocked when the big reveal happened!

All in all, September Sky is an excellent opener to a brand new series by John A. Heldt, and I absolutely cannot wait to dive into the next book as soon as I possibly can.

Book Review: Darkness by Ciye Cho

April 20, 2015

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Darkness by Ciye ChoDarkness by Ciye Cho
Series: Florence Waverley #3
Published by Self-Published on 9th February 2015
Source: Author
Pages: 309
Goodreads
four-stars
A dire prophecy has emerged, and the mer believe that humans and merfolk are in grave danger. Terror is closing in, but only one person holds the key to stopping it: Florence Waverley. However, her mission to save two worlds will lead her far, far out into the Darkness--a shadow-realm full of monsters, magic, and wicked tides that could tear apart bodies.

With the help of her friends, Florry must uncover a secret about humans and mer. A long-lost secret that could change her life. And above all else, she must fight hard to light the darkness. Everything depends on her mission: her friends, her world, and the one she loves.

The past, present, and future are about to collide--but can she stay afloat? One way or another, nothing will be the same when she enters the Darkness...

Darkness is the third book in the Florence Waverley series

It feels like forever since I submerged myself in the world of Niemela and Florence Waverley. And, in a way, that’s true. It’s been three years since I read a book from this series, and normally that means I’d be lost over where I was with the story, but that wasn’t the case with Darkness. I started reading and slipped straight back into the world with no problems whatsoever.

Ciye Cho has managed to really flesh out Florence’s character in this book. She goes from being a girl fighting for respect in a land whose residents are wary of her kind to someone strong and willful, who isn’t afraid to fight for what she truly believes in, even if it kills her. I can’t even mention the main thing that happens to her in Darkness because it is a MASSIVE spoiler, but it’s so good and so fitting and I can’t wait to see how she adapts and develops in the rest of the series.

I went into Darkness expecting answers to questions I had from previous books, but unfortunately, that wasn’t to be! In fact, I think I’ve been left with more questions than what I started with, so hopefully I won’t have to wait three years for the next installment in this series to arrive!

Darkness was nothing short of an excellent read, and I highly recommend this series to people who are fans of both fantasy and mermaids. Definitely not one to be missed!

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

April 6, 2015

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie PerkinsIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #2
Published by Usborne Books on 14th August 2014
Source: Bought Physical Copy
Pages: 375
Goodreads
five-stars
The café is boiling. The atmosphere is clouded with bittersweet coffee.
Three years of desire rip through my body and burst from my lips: “Josh!”
His head jolts up. For a long time, a very long time, he just stares at me.
And then…he blinks. “Isla?”

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on brooding artist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And, after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer break, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to face uncertainty about their futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Set against the stunning backdrops of New York, Paris and Barcelona, this is a gorgeous, heart-wrenching and irresistible story of true love, and the perfect conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

There was one perk to me leaving a stupidly long time between reading Anna and Lola – I didn’t have to wait long for the release of Isla. Which is only a good thing in my eyes, but that said, this book would have been worth the long wait for. I know there’s a few people who didn’t love it as much as its predecessors, but for me, this really showcases Stephanie Perkins at her finest.

Isla takes us back to Paris, and back into the world of Josh, a guy who Isla has had a crush on since freshman year. A guy who is very good friends with this guy called St Clair…remember him? Of course you do. And Isla and the Happily Ever After takes us on a whirlwind romance between Josh and Isla, and I have to say, I think their romance was my favourite of the three that Stephanie Perkins has written. Josh and Isla’s interactions felt so much more real to me, and I just felt totally invested in their relationship throughout the entire book, through all the good and the bad.

I found myself reading Isla and the Happily Ever After so much quicker than I really wanted to, I wanted to be able to take my time, to really immerse myself in the world that Stephanie Perkins has created for us, but that didn’t happen. I literally didn’t stop reading until I had turned that very last page, and I know I say this a lot, but reading Isla and the Happily Ever After was such an experience and I’m actually quite sad I won’t get to read this book in the same way again.

Isla and the Happily Ever After took us on a journey through the good, bad and ugly side of love, and ultimately gave me the happily ever after I truly wanted from this book. To say I adored this book is an understatement, it was one of my favourite books of 2014, and I am incredibly grateful to Stephanie Perkins for creating a series of books that I fell in love with from the very first page.

Book Review: Finding Perfect by Susan Mallery

March 30, 2015

Book Review: Finding Perfect by Susan MalleryFinding Perfect by Susan Mallery
Series: Fool's Gold #3
Published by HQN Books on 31st August 2010
Source: Bought Kindle Copy
Pages: 346
Goodreads
two-half-stars
When Pia O'Brian's best friend dies, Pia expects to inherit her cherished cat. Instead, the woman leaves Pia three frozen embryos. With a disastrous track record in the romance department and the parenting skills of a hamster, Pia doesn't think she's meant for motherhood. But determined to do the right thing, Pia decides to become a single mother. Only to meet a gorgeous, sexy hunk the very same day.

A former foster-care kid now rich beyond his wildest dreams, Raoul Moreno runs a camp for needy children in Fool's Gold, California. After his last relationship, Raoul thought he was done with women and commitment. Still, he can't get sweet, sexy Pia out of his mind—and proposes a crazy plan. But can such an unconventional beginning really result in the perfect ending?

In all honesty, I probably should’ve skipped this one. I’m not a massive fan of Pia, so to read a book centred was a bit of a silly idea. That said, it wasn’t all terrible, but not as enjoyable as its predecessors.

Despite me not really liking Pia, I do admire her decision to have Crystal’s babies. It might have been a slightly rash decision, but I really liked how she knew she had to do it, even if she didn’t quite know how she was going to do it.

My whole problem with Finding Perfect is the romance. And for a romance book, that is not what I want to happen! I just never truly believed in Raoul and Pia, and couldn’t see any chemistry between the pair. I know it started off as a relationship of convenience, but it still just didn’t work that well for me, which sucks. And I really wish men would stop using a marriage proposal as a quick fix! Ethan did it, now Raoul thinks it’s a good idea! Surely they know only to propose if they truly love someone! I’m more likely to believe in the romance if the proposal comes out of genuine feelings, instead of being used as a way to easily repair things. It’s so disrespectful to the woman, saying she doesn’t deserve to find someone she truly loves to marry, she should just marry to ease their conscience and make them happy.

Finding Perfect was still a quick, if not wholly enjoyable read. I’m looking forward to continuing with the Fool’s Gold series, and reading the next three stories which are centred on Ethan’s triplet sisters.

Book Review: Almost Perfect by Susan Mallery

March 16, 2015

Book Review: Almost Perfect by Susan MalleryAlmost Perfect by Susan Mallery
Series: Fool's Gold #2
Published by HQN Books on 21st June 2010
Source: Bought Kindle Copy
Pages: 379
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Back in high school, Liz Sutton was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Then she'd stolen the heart of the most popular boy in town, and their secret romance helped her through the worst of times. Until Ethan Hendrix betrayed her and everything they'd ever meant to each other. Devastated and pregnant, Liz left Fool's Gold, California-forever, she thought...

Now Liz must return to town and face the man who doesn't know of their son's existence. And this time she won't have the option of making a quick getaway. Ethan and Liz can't deny their passionate attraction, even after all these years. But will their desire be enough to spark a second chance at love?

As a rule of thumb, I hate books with a premise like Almost Perfect. I end up hating the characters and their actions, but somehow, Susan Mallery has taken this somewhat overdone plot and made it pretty enjoyable for me.

I suppose it helped that I actually (surprisingly) really liked Liz. And I completely understood why she hid away from Ethan and Fool’s Gold, even if it wasn’t the right thing to do. If I was in her shoes…I’d have probably done the same. And her return to Fool’s Gold was totally selfless. She could’ve ignored the email from her niece, but she didn’t. She sucked it up, packed her stuff and went there, knowing she wouldn’t be welcome. And that takes a ridiculous amount of courage. Ridiculous. And she really suffered. Most people blamed her for what happened between her and Ethan, in reality, it was more his fault than hers.

What I really appreciated seeing was Denise Hendrix not being afraid to side with Liz. She said her piece at the start, but when she got to know the full story she was so supportive towards Liz and let Ethan know when he’d done something stupid, which happened a lot. And made me want to pull my hair out. I couldn’t bring myself to really love Ethan’s character, he was too much of an asshole at times for me, so I found his romance with Liz a little off at times. I just couldn’t fully get behind it, not like I did with Charity and Josh. I did however love watching Ethan become a father. He stepped right up to the plate and I really respected that.

Almost Perfect was exactly that. Almost Perfect. If the romance had been one I could fully get behind, I would have loved it, but it just fell a little flat for me.

Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

February 18, 2015

Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth WeinCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Series: Code Name Verity #1
Published by Egmont Press on 6th February 2012
Source: Bought Physical Copy
Pages: 441
Goodreads
five-stars
Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

I literally have no clue where to start with this review. No clue. It’s fair to say that I love wartime fiction – I don’t read a lot of it, mind – but Code Name Verity reminded me that war fiction isn’t always about soldiers and trenches, but also friendship and loyalty. And my goodness, loyalty is important in this book.

For me, Code Name Verity was a slow burner, it took a while for me to get totally absorbed in the storyline, but once I did, there really was no going back. It starts with Julie’s confession about the British War Effort to her Nazi captors, but turns into this wonderful tale about her friendship with Maddie. Maddie and Julie’s friendship is probably my most favourite book friendship I’ve read in recent years. In fact, it’s probably second in my all-time favourite book friendships – the first being The Golden Trio from Harry Potter. Loyalty is so important, particularly in friendship, and it’s so excellently portrayed in Code Name Verity – you may not think so straight away, but when you get to the end, you’ll realise just how clever Julie is and how much she values her loyalty to both her country and her friends.

When Julie finishes her confession, we’re immediately switched to Maddie’s point of view. By this time, I felt like I already knew Maddie thanks to Julie, and Code Name Verity really picks up the pace due to Maddie’s sudden involvement with the French Resistance. It all builds up to this incredibly explosive ending which nearly had me in tears and really does highlight how loyal Julie and Maddie were to one another.

Code Name Verity may not be totally historically accurate, but Wein does the most incredible job of transporting you to wherever Maddie and Julie are. It’s impossible to read Code Name Verity without getting emotionally attached to all the characters this book holds. It’s easily a must-read for any fan of young adult.

Book Review: Love Hurts by Various Authors

February 4, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Love Hurts by Various AuthorsLove Hurts by Various Authors
Published by Corgi Children's on 29th January 2015
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 576
Goodreads
four-stars
Malorie Blackman brings together the best teen writers of today in a stunningly romantic collection about love against the odds. Featuring short stories and extracts about modern star-crossed lovers from stars such as Gayle Forman, Markus Zusak and Patrick Ness, and with a brand-new story from Malorie Blackman herself, Love Hurts looks at every kind of relationship, from first kiss to final heartbreak.

Love Hurts contains a fantastic mix of authors and genres, and it’s a book perfect for people wanting to try out an author without committing to a whole book that they may not enjoy. As a head’s up – it does contain quite a few excerpts from already published books that you may have already read, which was something that I didn’t expect, but on the whole, I’d say it’s well worth a read.

There is so much diversity in this book! It’s absolutely excellent to see so many different topics tackled with so many different characters. It really fits in with the theme of the entire book. Love it’s black and white, it’s extremely diverse, so it’s right that the book reflects that.

If you only read one story from Love Hurts, make it Gentlewoman by Laura Dockrill. Such an important story with such an important message, and it made my heart hurt with everything Dani was going through both mentally and physically.

Love Hurts has made me desperate to pick up some books, and cemented the fact that I won’t be picking certain ones up, and that was what I really enjoyed about it. I was able to revisit some old favourites (both stories and authors), and added new authors to my list who I can’t wait to read more from.

 

Book Review: Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

January 26, 2015

Book Review: Rainshadow Road by Lisa KleypasRainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Friday Harbor #2
Published by Piatkus Books on 1st January 2012
Source: Bought Physical Copy
Pages: 308
Goodreads
five-stars
From New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas comes a tale of love and magic...

Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in mystical, beautiful, Friday Harbor, Washington. She is stunned and blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal: her fiancé Kevin has left her. His new lover is Lucy’s own sister. Lucy's bitterness over being dumped is multiplied by the fact that she has constantly made the wrong choices in her romantic life.

Facing the severe disapproval of Lucy's parents, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, a local vineyard owner on San Juan Island, to "romance" Lucy and hopefully loosen her up and get her over her anger. Complications ensue when Sam and Lucy begin to fall in love, Kevin has second thoughts, and Lucy discovers that the new relationship in her life began under false pretenses. Questions about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings are explored as Lucy learns that some things in life—even after being broken—can be made into something new and beautiful.

I adored Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor and I’m absolutely kicking myself that I waited so long to pick up Rainshadow Road, because I was seriously denying myself some excellent storytelling.

I devoured this book in one greedy sitting, once I started reading I literally couldn’t stop. I loved Lucy right from the start, she was constantly second best to her sister, Alice, even losing her boyfriend to her. Kevin was a total jackass. Talk about grass is greener on the other side! Lucy was so much better off without him. Also, who goes to an old friend and asks them to take her out so he didn’t feel bad about leaving her?! Seriously?! Any guy who does that does not deserve a girlfriend until they grow up and grow some balls. I was so pleased Sam was open about Kevin’s proposal with Lucy right from the start – Sam is actually a decent guy! *cheers*

Lucy and Sam’s relationship built up really naturally, it wasn’t forced or rushed and that’s what I loved about it. Kleypas has a way with creating believable relationships, and she definitely delivered here!

Alice was a spoiled brat, and I hated how everyone pandered to her. She so didn’t deserve Lucy’s kindness after everything she’d done to Lucy, and still whined that she was hard done by. She needed a good slap and a kick up the arse. My goodness. I could feel my blood boiling as I was reading about her, which just shows how realistic she was. Gah.

If Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor and Rainshadow Road are anything to go by, it won’t take me long to get caught up on this series and start eagerly awaiting more books from Kleypas.

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

January 19, 2015

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie PerkinsLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #2
Published by Usborne Books on 28th September 2011
Source: Bought Physical Copy
Pages: 384
Goodreads
five-stars
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion... she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit – the more sparkly, more wild – the better. And life is pretty close to perfect for Lola, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend.

That is, until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket return to the neighbourhood and unearth a past of hurt that Lola thought was long buried. So when talented inventor Cricket steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally face up to a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. Could the boy from Lola's past be the love of her future?

I didn’t think it was possible to love a book more than I loved Anna, but I was wrong. So wrong. Lola and the Boy Next Door wove its way into my heart and refused to let me go until I had turned the very last page.

Set in San Francisco, it doesn’t quite have the magic of Parish, but there was never any question on where this book should be set. Lola is more San Fran than Paris, everything about her, from her clothes to her family just fits in with that city.

Lola. Where do I begin? Equal parts crazy to utter design genius, I loved her. There was something about her that just appealed right from the start. She’s far from normal, and that is most definitely not a bad thing. Lola is Lola and that’s that.

Cricket. Oh my. I think every girl secretly wishes they had a Cricket (human, not insect) living next to them at some point in their lives. The way he cared for Lola made my heart ache. Everyone deserves their own Cricket. Unfortunately, Lola and Cricket weren’t as plain sailing as they should’ve been. Max, Lola’s boyfriend, stood in their way. And my gosh, he was a total dick. Literally. I spent the majority of my time willing Lola to get rid of him, the idiotic, egotistical oaf. Compared to Cricket, he stood no chance with Lola. He didn’t love Lola, he just used her as a toy and I hated it.

I honestly thought I would never say this, but I loved Lola and the Boy Next Door more than I loved Anna and the French Kiss. (I actually just typed that. No going back now.) This is probably the most perfect, romantic, contemporary young adult series I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and I seriously urge every single one of you to start reading it if you haven’t already.