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Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Saturday, July 26, 2014
Goodreads summary:
Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is - no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together - and trying to tear them apart.
I was really excited to dig into this book after discovering it had greek mythology in it. The book starts off interestingly enough with the non-traditional meeting of the main characters Helen and Lucas; they start of hating each other for no reason (180 degrees from love at first sight!).

It might have been the third person narrative but I could not for the life of me like Helen. She was completely devoid of personality. All she wanted to do most of the time was scream or run away. The reason why the Delos family pays her any attention is because of the heritage running through her bloodstream and the special powers she's got. Lucas wasn't much better, a typical pretty boy with a questionable attachment to the incredibly dull female lead.

I did like some characters of the book which included Helen's best friend Claire (a really good friend who stuck by Helen through Helen's unpredictable-bordering-on-crazy mood swings) and Lucas' cousins Jason and Hector who were way more interesting than Lucas. Man, the book would have been more enjoyable with them as the main characters.

The book tries so hard to create a forbidden romance it seemed like the greek mythology served to explain how forbidden Lucas and Helen's love for each other was. Frankly their love was so instant and boring. When they declared their love for each other it felt so meaningless because there just wasn't any chemistry or development to support those words.

Another problem I had with the book was there was no epic factor. Come on, if a book's based on mythology, it's got to be epic! The story just wasn't that exciting (plus most of it was focused on the drab romance).

To sum up my feelings for this book: expected better, disappointed.

Review: Clockwise by Elle Strauss

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Goodreads summary:
Casey Donovan has issues: hair, height and uncontrollable trips to the 19th century! And now this - she’s accidentally taken Nate Mackenzie, the cutest boy in the school, back in time. Awkward.

Protocol pressures her to tell their 1860 hosts that he is her brother and when Casey finds she has a handsome, wealthy (and unwanted) suitor, something changes in Nate. Are those romantic sparks or is it just “brotherly” protectiveness?

When they return to the present, things go back to the way they were before: Casey parked on the bottom of the rung of the social ladder and Nate perched high on the very the top. Except this time her heart is broken. Plus, her best friend is mad, her parents are split up, and her younger brother gets escorted home by the police. The only thing that could make life worse is if, by some strange twist of fate, she took Nate back to the past again.

Which of course, she does.
Free book at Smashwords

Clockwise was such a cute and delightful read. Casey, our main character, gets transported to the past in 1860 and she can't control when she goes back. This was definitely an interesting time period and I was surprised at the plot since I was just expecting this whole book to be a fluffy romance about a girl getting a popular cute guy to notice her. Wrong! The book also explores the prejudice against certain people and the way of life back in the past!

I liked the parts of the story when Casey gets transported to the past infinitely more than her story in the present. In the present, Casey is a nobody in high school and she has problems with her appearance and she's at the bottom of the social ladder. The cliches were piled on. She sets her eyes on the cutest guy in school, Nate, who happens to be a jock and taken by a popular girl who conforms to the bitchy perfect-made-up-clothed-hairstyled bitchy cheerleader archetype. How could a guy like this type of girl and what does it say about him? There was also the annoying way that the main character kept concentrating on her bad physical traits (unruly hair and knobbly knees) when loads of people were complementing her on her prettiness.

Thankfully, much of the book was focused on Casey and Nate's venture into the past and them getting to know each other better and running into some interesting situations! Casey's thoughts were focused less on her appearance and her likable personality came through to us (and to Nate!).

Clockwise had a pretty cool surprise at the end. I'm happy there's a continuation of the story because just when it was revealed the book ended so suddenly!

Review: Endlessly by Kiersten White (Paranormalcy, #3)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Goodreads summary:
In Endlessly, pink-loving, butt-kicking Evie has way too much on her to-do list. Paranormals are begging her to open a faerie gate so they can leave the human world, something Evie’s not sure she has the power to do. The Dark Queen is torturing humans and must be destroyed.

On top of all that, Evie’s prom is coming up. She’s not sure what to wear, and, oh, yeah, her shape-shifting boyfriend, Lend, has been cursed so that he falls into an enchanted sleep whenever he and Evie are in the same room…and even Evie’s ex-boyfriend, the faerie Reth, can’t reverse the dark magic.

An epic battle is looming, and the choices Evie makes will determine the fate of whole paranormal world—and her own life.

A good conclusion to the Paranormalcy series but I kind of expected more. I counted on the nice dosage of comedy and funny dialogue when I got back into the world and the book delivered. The bad thing was sometimes this comedy got in the way of developing the characters and especially the relationship between Lend and Evie.

Lend and Evie were cute in this book but they kind of lacked spark. I found myself once again (as I did in Supernaturally) missing the Lend I met in the first book, the mischievous and unpredictable Lend. Lend didn't do much in this novel which I hated. Trying to live a human life just made him somehow... boring. What made it worse for me was Reth, the manipulative faerie, had so much more page time and his character was more complex and developed.

The author did create a memorable cast of characters but I was left craving for more. We just skimmed the surface of Jack and Raquel and David's story. If those had been touched upon more in this book, I would have surely felt more emotional leaving the world after I turned the last page. Nevertheless, a great series that was easy to devour and a fun adventure ride.

Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Saturday, July 19, 2014
Goodreads summary:
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.
This book sure is the berries!

The Diviners had a 1920s setting which was confusing and overwhelming at the start when the author describes speakeasies, the theatre, parties and clothing items back in the day (culture shock!), but I adapted into the world eventually and I loved it!

The scene is set at a rooftop party where the hostess takes out an Ouija board and the guests gather and summon a spirit. They reach 'Naughty John' who delivers some creepy messages. The guests are frightened and leave the board without spelling goodbye (a big no-no!), releasing Naughty John into their world. He hides in a basement and prepares to cook up something evil.

In New York city, there dwells The Diviners, people with magical powers, one of them being our main character Evie. Evie was sent from a small town to live with her uncle at a museum in the city as punishment after her 'special power' caused a scandal back home (not much of a punishment if you ask me!). Evie was po-si-tute-ly spunky! Her antics were funny and she was such a colorful character. One day Evie's uncle Will is called on by police (due to his knowledge of Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult) to help investigations in a mysterious series of murders and Evie gets caught up in helping. I really liked the contrast of Evie's personality with the horror brought on by the gruesome murders committed. She was just a big ball of sunshine lighting up the otherwise dark tone of the book.

I also liked the other characters introduced; Sam, Jericho, Will, Mabel, Theta, Memphis! They all had such interesting pasts and lead interesting lives. The character building in this book was the cat's meow!

The Diviners was a lengthy book and I was worried I'd be bored by a good chuck of it but that didn't happen at all. It was unlike anything I'd ever read before and I had a swell time reading it!

Review: If He Had Been with Me by Laura Nowlin

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Goodreads summary: Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable - they finished each other's sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last 2 years. But she's always wondered what if...
Autumn and Finn had been close childhood friends. They started drifting apart in high school, hanging out in different cliques and barely exchanging words despite frequently seeing each other during 'family' dinners where their mothers (aka The Mothers) bring them together for meals.

This book details the events leading up to that tragic August night when Finn passed away due to a car accident (which is no spoiler since it's given in the book summary). Autumn also reminisces her childhood past with Finn and we are left wondering how they were the best of friends and transitioned to being practically strangers within the span of a few years. All the could'ves, would'ves and should'ves are lain out by Autumn's recount.

Autumn's obsession with Finn was so strong, it was very annoying how many times she kept acting like she didn't care in front of him. She kept having to convince herself that settling for another boy (if he loved her more than she loved him) was a good thing, whilst she was constantly imagining how Finn would have acted in situations she experienced with that boy. It was maddening but somehow I couldn't put the book down! I just had to find out if Autumn confessed her feelings to Finn, whether Finn felt the same way and whether Finn's death would affect me more than it did when it was revealed in the first chapter.

I didn't like the book's ending as I felt it was a bit of a cop-out. It was like the author served us two bombshells on a plate and then told us to conjure up our own resolution.

Review: One Moment by Kristina McBride

Thursday, July 10, 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
It was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie’s life. Now it's the one she'd do anything to forget.

Maggie Reynolds remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a party the night before. She remembers climbing the path hand in hand with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, safe. So why can’t she remember what happened next?

All it takes is one second for everything to change. One moment to realize that it’s the people you love who hurt you the most.
Maggie and her close friends spend one summer day at a gorge where they take turns diving into the water. Maggie is scared but Joey, her boyfriend, takes her hand and they climb the rocky ledge and prepare to jump together. The next moment, Maggie climbs down the gorge to find Joey surrounded by blood and not breathing. All she can remember was the kiss before the jump and Joey telling her to trust him.

I hated the feeling of being kept in the dark while Maggie narrated and she kept going in circles about the whole gorge incident. Thankfully the book was not so long and things came to light pretty soon. The writing was great in the way that it made me analyse the behaviour of characters in the aftermath of Joey's death and in incidents Maggie recalled (her first date with Joey, parties and other events) and question why someone would be acting a certain way.

Although I didn't like Maggie as she was quite self-absorbed and the type to run away from the truth even though it was staring her in the eye, I felt for her when the secrets kept from her were revealed and things got ugly. Overall an engrossing novel.

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass, #2)

Sunday, July 6, 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
Celaena Sardothien is the king’s Champion—yet she is far from loyal to the crown, for the man she serves is bent on evil. But working against her master in secret is no easy task. As Celaena tries to untangle the mysteries buried within the glass castle, she can trust no one, not even her supposed allies Crown Prince Dorian, Captain of the Guard Chaol, and foreign princess Nehemia.

Then, an unspeakable tragedy shatters Celaena’s world. She must decide once and for all where her loyalties lie... and whom she will fight for.
I lowered my expectations for Crown of Midnight after being a bit disappointed with Throne of Glass. It turns out I could have raised my bar a lot higher and the book would have still delivered. It was an amazing sequel!

This book built on so much of the first book. In the first book I was endlessly complaining in my mind that Celaena had a backstory which was never told and she was all talk and no action, but now I know why she kept it in wraps and never said anything. The things she did in this book were so badass and erased my doubts about her credibility as an assassin. Blood and gore is what I find synonymous with the word 'assassin' and plenty of violence that had me awe-stricken was served in this installment. I frequently had no idea where the book was headed and I liked the surprises. More than just assassinating under the king's orders, Celaena discovers his larger plans for the realm.

Character development was much better here than the ToG. The relationship of Chaol and Celaena progressed and I found myself liking this development and caring more for them. This may have been partly due to Celaena becoming less self-absorbed and more focused on the seriousness of her role as King's Champion and the fact that she now had people close to her she could potentially lose if she stepped out of line. There wasn't a complete change in character though with just enough arrogance to remind me of the person she was in ToG.

I am totally ready for the journey set up towards the end of the book that will be continued in Heir of Fire.

Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

Saturday, July 5, 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.
I have loved every book Kasie West has written, including this one! She's a queen of spinning love stories and tugging (heart)strings. The summary/blurb pretty much reveals a lot of what happens in the beginning, with Charlie getting fined a speeding ticket and finding a job to pay it off. Charlie hangs a lot with her four brothers and the boy next door Braden, who has been friends with the lot of them since they were young. One night when she can't sleep due to her recurring nightmares, she goes out to the garden for some air and finds Braden sitting on the other side of the fence. Charlie finds herself unloading her thoughts to Braden (something she doesn't do during the day when they hang out) during these fence chats which become a frequent thing.

The dialogue in this book was funny and cute and I loved the way we were let in on the inside jokes shared between the characters. I loved the family dynamics between Charlie, her overprotective brothers and their father single-handedly raising them up. Most of all I loved the contrast between Braden and Charlie's interactions during the fence chats at night (where Charlie pictures a 'disembodied' Braden, hehe!) to their interactions during the day. I was anticipating the time it came when the line would blur!

I devoured this book like multiple Weis bars on a summer's day! On the Fence was sweet and satisfying but definitely left me craving for more because I just didn't want to leave.

Review: Nick and Norah Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Summary from Goodreads:
It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City – and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.
The reason I completed this horrendous book was so I could count it towards a challenge :/ straight off the bat I knew that I wouldn't connect with any of the characters. They unnecessarily swore (50+ f words in one chapter?!) and they were irresponsible hormone-driven teenagers. I hated Norah the most who was always going on about how a high achiever and good girl she was when her appalling behaviour and attitude conveyed the complete opposite. Straight laced she tells us? She sends her drunk and passed out friend to the back of the van of some strangers and throw them her address and house keys for good measure while she goes and frolicks with Nick! What the heck?!?!

The story was a mess, things made no sense and one crazy thing lead to another with no end in sight. When the ending arrived, I was completely dissatisfied and my final thought was that I should have read a hundred odd pages of the dictionary (to boost my vocab rather than getting the f word thrown at me a hundred times) instead of this disaster of a book. Complete waste of time.

Review: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

Friday, July 4, 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive. Normal professional twenty-something young women don’t get visited by ghosts. Or do they?

When the spirit of Lara’s great-aunt Sadie — a feisty, demanding girl with firm ideas about fashion, love, and the right way to dance—mysteriously appears, she has one request: Lara must find a missing necklace that had been in Sadie’s possession for more than seventy-five years, because Sadie cannot rest without it.

Lara and Sadie make a hilarious sparring duo, and at first it seems as though they have nothing in common. But as the mission to find Sadie’s necklace leads to intrigue and a new romance for Lara, these very different “twenties” girls learn some surprising truths from and about each other.
This was the first book I picked up written by Sophie Kinsella and it was a delightful read! The book begins with Lara, our main character, attending the funeral of Sadie Lancaster who seemed to live an unspectacular life. Sadie was her great aunt but Lara (and the other/only family members in attendance) know nothing about Sadie besides that she lived to the age of 105. During the funeral procession, Lara hears a voice and sees a ghost yelling at her to stop the funeral. It turns out to be none other than Sadie herself (a younger self)! What ensues is a stream of ridiculously funny events!

Lara learns of her great aunt's not-so-ordinary-after-all life through Sadie's 23-year-old ghost. It was entertaining and insightful being introduced to the fashion and way of life in the 1920s and the modern sights of London. Sadie was a funny character and frankly very annoying and obnoxious but her heart and the way she made Lara open her eyes made up for this.

I liked the way the novel came full circle and finished with a funeral except this time around things are different.

Twenties Girl was a really fun novel which also delivered some excellent heartwarming and tear-inducing moments. It will definitely not be the last Sophie Kinsella book I'll read!

Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.
At the beginning of Faking Normal I was confused as Alexi, the narrator, seemed to have her thoughts all over the place. Alexi was hiding a secret and the way she was beginning the story was cryptic and hard to follow. Fortunately, once I got through the initial chapters, the writing started to flow a lot better. It was distressing to read about what Alexi was doing to herself all the while kept in the dark as to what made her this way.

I loved the friendship Alexi and Bodee developed throughout the novel. It was sweet and heartening to see them develop trust and support each other through their hard times.

The mysteries were well written. One mystery to be uncovered was who did something to Alexi and why she hurts herself. The other was more lighthearted; who was the 'Captain' who spoke to her heart through song lyrics on Alexi's school desk and made her days easier to get by.

There were some aspects of the book which were not quite believable (the way certain events and people panned out). Other than that, Faking Normal was a gripping read.