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Review: Boy 23 by Jim Carrington

Monday, September 28, 2015
Goodreads summary:
Boy 23 isn't in My Place any more. He can't see The Screen, he can't hear The Voice. Boy 23 is alone.

One dark night, Boy 23 is thrown in the back of the van and driven out of My Place - the only home he has ever known. He is abandoned in a forest with a rucksack containing the bare essentials for survival. Before the van drives away, a voice tells him he must run as far as he can. His life depends on it. Boy 23 has never known another human. Boy 23 has never even been outside. So who is he? Why do people want to kill him? And more to the point, who is the voice that wants to save him?
Boy 23 is dumped in the forest with only a backpack of tools for basic survival and a set of instructions by The Voice instructing him where to go. Boy 23 is both fascinated and frightened of the outside world as he navigates his way through the forest using the knowledge he gained from The Screen while he stayed at My Place. This book started off really mysterious and just like Boy 23 I didn't know what was in store! Boy 23 stumbles across a Children's Home and reveals himself to be special. The caretakers want to use him for their own agenda whilst from people from My Place are determined to get him back.

Boy 23 was quite slow-paced from the beginning and it wasn't very exciting reading about his trek through the forest, hunting and making fires. But once more characters were introduced, things picked up. It wasn't until the end though, where the action took me by surprise and revelations were made about the origins of Boy 23 and the reason why people were after him.

Unfortunately, I didn't grow to like any of the characters. I think the main reason was because Boy 23 was kind of emotionless though I guess it is understandable since he wasn't brought up as a normal child. Carina, an orphan at the children's home was kind and she had a terrible backstory, but I felt quite distant from her too.

Overall I thought Boy 23 had the basic dystopian storyline; a main group in charge, a resistance group against them and the main character seeking to become a rebel. The book didn't really bring anything mind-blowing to the genre but it was a pretty good read with some interesting ideas.

Note: I received an advanced reader's copy from Bloomsbury Publishing Plc via NetGalley to review. This review is my honest opinion.

Review: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer

Saturday, September 5, 2015
Goodreads summary:
What happens when happily ever after... isn't?

Delilah hates school as much as she loves books. In fact, there's one book in particular she can't get enough of. If anyone knew how many times she has read and re-read the sweet little fairy tale she found in the library, especially the popular kids, she'd be sent to social Siberia... forever.

To Delilah, though, this fairy tale is more than just words on the page. Sure, there's a handsome (well, okay, hot) prince, and a castle, and an evil villain, but it feels as if there's something deeper going on. And one day, Delilah finds out there is. Turns out, this Prince Charming is real, and a certain fifteen-year-old loner has caught his eye. But they're from two different worlds, and how can it ever possibly work?

Delilah is completely addicted to the fairytale 'Between the Lines' and has read it hundreds of times because she connects with the main character Oliver (plus she might have a crush on him). After checking out the book from the library once more and opening to reread the book, she finds out that she can hear and communicate with Oliver through the pages. It turns out Oliver wants a life more than just replaying the same role over and over again to the Readers.

Between the Lines is split between Delilah's POV, the fairytale story and Oliver's POV. I found this great because by the end of the book you've read two stories in one! I enjoyed the quirky elements of the story such as the behind the scenes look at the characters in the fairytale book once the book is closed by Delilah and the way the book affects them (flipping the pages meant that characters were dragged across words to a different part of the story!).

I wasn't completely convinced with the 'love' story of Delilah and Oliver though, which was a huge part of the book. It was insta-love. Delilah probably felt like she loved Oliver because she knew his story but kind of failed to acknowledge that he'd been playing a role and could be a completely different person. She fell in love with the idea of a prince who was not courageous but used his wits to tackle problems and I felt she automatically transferred that to the real Oliver. It felt like Oliver fell in love with Delilah simply because she was so new and different to Seraphima, his love interest in the fairytale. We don't really get to see them getting to know each other. The book spends the majority of the time on Delilah and Oliver coming up with plans and possibilities to overcome their forbidden romance of literally living in two different worlds.

I kind of expected more in terms of Delilah's 'real-life' story. She's established as a loner and I just felt that with the background story of Delilah's friendship with Jules and her school life and how she made her mother worry, there would be a bit of her turning her life around but Delilah was completely concentrated on Oliver which was a shame.

The ending twist bothered me a bit and left an unpleasant feeling after I turned the last page of the book.
I didn't like it when Edgar (the son of the author of Between the Lines, the person Oliver was based on) switched places with Oliver. Like he'd rather be in the story than in the real world. He felt like he didn't belong in the world and no one, not even his mom would miss him. He was figuratively giving up on life. This just didn't sit right with me!

The actual fairytale 'Between the Lines' was quite enjoyable and I liked that Prince Oliver's quest to save a princess from an evil villain provided action and wit. I loved the lovely silhouette and colourful illustrations peppered throughout the book because they really added something special to the words!

Overall, I liked the creative storyline of this book, especially at the beginning when everything was being established. The engagement of the rest of the story really hinged on the believability of Delilah and Oliver's relationship which I was unfortunately iffy about.

Review: One by Sarah Crossan

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Note: I received an advanced reader's copy of this book from Bloomsbury Publishing via Netgalley. This review is my honest opinion.

One is a story told in the point of view of Grace, a girl who's conjoined to her sister. Due to financial difficulties, Grace and her twin Tippi can no longer be home schooled and are enrolled in a public school. They dread being stared at and talked about for being different.

The blurb was what initially drew my interest to this book. Being a twin, I could understand how close of a bond you can have with your sister but I could not imagine what it'd be like to be literally joined at the hip. This book covered a lot of things I was wondering about and more about Siamese twins. I appreciated that it was realistic and not overly dramatic.

I thought the verse format really made the story flow nicely and it was amazing how choice words by the author conveyed so much. However, because of the length of the writing, I didn't believe in the love story line, which felt kind of depthless seeing as we were not privy to many of their conversations and interactions and Grace merely states her quick forming feelings. That was only a small part of the novel though. The main focus was the bond between Grace and Tippi. They were dealt some unfavourable cards and had to face a life changing choice. By the end of the book I was heartbroken. One was a short read but it was one with insight and impact.

Review: Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Haley is not looking forward to spending time with her father and her stepmom at Disney Fort Wilderness when she'd much rather spend summer with her friends back in her hometown Jupiter. Her father and stepmom decide to keep a close eye on her after Haley had a seizure a few months earlier. One night Haley goes on a scavenger hunt with some new friends in the abondoned River Country waterpark, experiences her second seizure and when she gains consciousness she realises she's been transported 30ish years back to the past, when River Country was open for business.

I loved the setting of this book. It was based on an actual place so it was cool to discover its existence and a bit about its history. The contrast between the fashion and technology in the 80s and now was interesting and I liked how Haley came to appreciate the park which stored so many memories for her father. Romance was a big part of the story but it was a little dramatic seeing as it only spanned three days. The ending chapters could've had a bigger impact if there was more time to develop it. Overall, Summer of Yesterday was a fun and enjoyable story with a hint of bittersweetness.

Book Haul: Lifeline Book Fair

Friday, June 26, 2015
Lifeline provides telephone crisis support and suicide prevention service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each year, Lifeline holds popular bookfairs in the Sydney region. The bookfairs attract many book lovers and collectors and support Lifeline’s life-saving work. Books are donated throughout the year and are sorted, priced and categorised ready to be sold at our bookfairs.
The Lifeline Book Fair kicked off today at Ashfield and I was able to get my hands on some awesome books!! The money goes towards a good cause: funding a non-profit organisation and their valuable services in the community. There was such a large variety of books on sale from classics, to crime, gardening, travelling, young adult, children and loads of fiction books. The majority of books were priced $2 to $4. My sister and I left the fair with 8 books (two of them hardcover) for $25. Bargain!

Here are some pictures of the hardcover copy I purchased of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. So pretty and it was only $3!!!

We then headed to Kmart and in the book section I found a copy of this book on the shelf which scanned for $1!! (Usually when I find titles that only have one copy on the shelf or is a little worn, I scan the barcode at the price checker machine and if I'm lucky they can be either 50c or $1) I was so happy to find this title because it's quite recently published :D

Happy reading~!

Review: Faking Perfect by Rebecca Phillips

Thursday, June 25, 2015
Goodreads summary:
When Lexi Shaw seduced Oakfield High's resident bad boy Tyler Flynn at the beginning of senior year, he seemed perfectly okay with her rules:

1. Avoid her at school.
2. Keep his mouth shut about what they do together.
3. Never tease her about her friend (and unrequited crush) Ben.

Because with his integrity and values and golden boy looks, Ben can never find out about what she’s been doing behind closed doors with Tyler. Or that her mom’s too busy drinking and chasing losers to pay the bills. Or that Lexi’s dad hasn’t been a part of her life for the last thirteen years. But with Tyler suddenly breaking the rules, Ben asking her out, and her dad back in the picture, how long will she be able to go on faking perfect?

Note: I received a copy via NetGalley to review. This review is my honest opinion.

Lexi feels like she should hold up the image of a 'perfect' girl, to put up a front and hide the fact that her mother is an irresponsible alcoholic and that her drug addict father abandoned them when she was just a little girl. She has the school bad boy sneaking in through her bedroom window at night, has friends who judge and shun her childhood friend Nolan (the only one who knows everything about her) and she harbours an unrequited love on her picture-perfect friend Ben.

With a title and blurb like Faking Perfect, I expected there to be a lot of drama but the book ended up quite boring. We spend a lot of time with Lexi who has this view about what she's supposed to do in order to not be like her mother. No doubt her upbringing has affected many aspects and outlooks on her life! But she pretty much creates lost of unnecessary stress for herself. The character growth could have been great but Lexi pretty much stays in the same spot whilst everyone suddenly changes around her and by the end of the book, her situation is improved because of these changes by other people.

The romance was weak and there wasn't enough interaction between the couple to make me believe they understood and loved each other. Many characters still felt like strangers to me. Overall, the story was lacklustre and with the amount of good contemporary YA romances out there, Faking Perfect isn't one I would recommend.

Review: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Thursday, June 11, 2015
Goodreads summary:
Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

P.S. I Still Love You was my most anticipated release of the year as I loved To All The Boys I've Loved Before to bits. The cliffhanger at the end of that book left me feeling giddy. P.S. I Still Love You wasted no time continuing from that cliffhanger but the result was a little underwhelming and disappointing. Basically, there's another love triangle with a new corner. I liked the addition of this character and he did manage to steal the spotlight but the love triangle meant there were jealousy games and trust issues that go unresolved for a loooong time.

Lara Jean's voice started to become childish and whiny after a while and she kind of expects other people to solve the problems for her (Kitty definitely being her biggest supporter). I did like how there was a lot of focus on the Song sisters' bonds and the close relationship they had with each other and their dad. So heartwarming!

But the center of the plot is the romance and that storyline was so frustrating! I'm disappointed (and shocked!) that I was bored at times with this book. There are many parts where not much happens. Once again, just like the first book, the ending was not really happy but a hopeful one. I finished this book feeling a little unsatisfied.

Review: The Heir by Kiera Cass

Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Goodreads summary:
Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn't expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.

***Note: Minor spoilers ahead***

Illea has undergone change after Maxon ascended the throne, with America by his side. Eighteen year old Eadlyn is the next in line to the throne and The Heir follows her love story, pretty much. Maxon got rid of the caste system but not everyone is happy. Disgruntled citizens still exist and cause trouble for the royal family. His proposed solution? Run a selection for Eadlyn to divert attention of the greater public away from the unhappy people. The tables have turned, with 35 male candidates randomly drawn by Eadlyn to compete for her affection.

Eadlyn was a self-centered brat to say the least. It was annoying how she'd boast or complain about her position in the royal family. She's the future queen but she doesn't really do much. She also expects it's a given that everyone in Illea loves her (For what? Being the beloved Maxon and America's daughter?!). She's sheltered and it has made her a brat! If the author was trying to elicit these ill feelings for Eadlyn, then she has done a very good job!

On to the characters I did like: the contenders in the Selection. Everyone's personalities and vibes were so different and it was interesting getting to know them. Kile a childhood friend living in the palace who Eadlyn starts to see as someone different, Henri a sweet foreigner who bakes, Erik Henri's translator (who wasn't Selected but might as well be!), Ean the mysterious confident guy and Hale, Mr. Gentleman.

I was excited to catch Maxon and America again but in this book they're weathered oldies which was a shame. I didn't get a glimpse of their personality traits at all, they were just portrayed as caring parents.

Just like the past 3 Selection books, there isn't much focus on the politics and world building outside of the palace. The focus is mostly on the romance so it was light reading. I quite enjoyed this The Bachelorette-esque book but I still have a way to go in warming up to Eadlyn!

Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Friday, June 5, 2015
Goodreads summary:
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Note: I received a copy via NetGalley to review. This review is my honest opinion.

Madeline hasn't left her house for years because she's allergic to the outside. At home, the air is controlled and filtered and Madeline only communicates face-to-face with her nurse Carla and her mother. When Oliver and his family move in next door, Madeline becomes more curious about the outside and ponders about what she's missing in life. The story unfolds through many ways such as diagrams, drawings, diary entries, pieces of paper and email correspondence. I found this format very engaging.

Given that Madeline has a serious illness, she didn't really act responsible and wasn't really aware of the risks after becoming interested in the boy next door. Their initial meeting and how they got to know one another was cute though it did progress a bit too fast.

There was a bombshell towards the end which delivered a surprise but it wasn't delved into great detail and the book ended somewhat abruptly with lots of uncertainty about what the main character was going to do about her situation. This left me quite unsatisfied since Everything, Everything is a standalone read.

Review: Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Saturday, May 30, 2015
Goodreads summary:
Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

Note: I received a copy via NetGalley to review. This review is my honest opinion.

Ollie is secluded from civilization because he's allergic to electricity. Across the world in Germany, Moritz is a boy born without eyes and relies on a pacemaker to help his heart function. These two boys form a friendship through exchanging letters and discover they're more connected than they know.

The bulk of the book communicated that the book was a contemporary read with the issues of bullying and self-worth. The exception being that I had to suspend my belief in regards to Moritz' ability to 'see' and describe peoples' body language through echolocation. The last quarter delved into science fiction territory and I felt like I was thrown into a totally different story. It was loosely connected with how secretive Moritz was being in his letters and made a jarring plot twist.

The middle of the book suffered because it was quite dull and uneventful. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I didn't connect with the characters and found their babble provided little furtherance in plot and the correspondence did feel a little pretentious at times.

Because You'll Never Meet Me was a unique and different read but I can't say I enjoyed it.

Review: The Kill Order by James Dashner (The Maze Runner #0.5)

Friday, May 22, 2015
Goodreads summary:
Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next.

Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.

The label Maze Runner #0.5 relates more to the chronological order of events than the order of reading. The book does spoil some of the mystery surrounding the series so it is best read after the whole trilogy.

The The Kill Order is set 13 years before Teresa and Thomas were sent down the Box to the Maze. The books follows Mark and Trina, who have survived the sun flares and the subsequent chaos that followed. It was interesting how we didn't follow the characters from the very beginning but instead, their experiences were only shared when Mark closed his eyes and dreamed about the things they went through. In the 'present' time, Mark and Trina are part of a group which consisted of Alec and Lana, an army nurse and a few other kids. I loved that there were adults in this book who weren't antagonists and brought Mark and the other kids a sense of security and made the whole situation a whole less nightmarish! Everyone was joking around in the beginning of the book but the peace is quickly disturbed when aircraft hover over the town and armed men come out to shoot darts at everyone in sight.

I felt like the whole situation with the infected felt like a zombie apocalypse, with many people losing their minds and a few select remaining clear but succumbing to it slowly. And of course, there's a cure amidst everything and Mark does everything in his power to make sure it's not the end. In saying that, it was a really terrifying and chilling read packed with loads of action. Knowing what happened in the Maze Runner trilogy, you can expect no happy ending. I did put down the book a few times because only bad things kept happening. I think this is one of the books that you have to be in the mood to read or else you wouldn't like it.

Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Thursday, May 21, 2015
Goodreads summary:
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

After a bullying incident in school, Audrey hides at home and suffers with anxiety being around new people. The author took a lighthearted approach in telling Audrey's story. It centered around Audrey and her support group; her parents, siblings, her doctor Sarah and a blossoming connection with Linus.

The story was essentially a sitcom and I liked Audrey's filming adventures which gave us a look into some hilariously awkward conversations and funny situations happening in and around the house. I really enjoyed the family dynamics with the bossy loud mother, the gaming-obsessed brother and the non-assertive father.

Audrey finds a sweet and unlikely friend in Linus, a gaming friend of her brother's who visits the house, who helps her to venture out of her comfort zone and integrate back into the world with his encouragements.

I felt the story touched on the very tip of the iceberg in terms of Audrey's anxiety disorder and there wasn't quite a moment which I truly understood the reason for Audrey's fears and insecurities. I guess the main reason was because the bullying incident wasn't delved into much detail. If I had more to go on (was what she experienced so traumatic?) I could probably empathise more.

Overall, Finding Audrey was a different and amusing read.

Note: I received a copy via NetGalley to review. This review is my honest opinion.