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Girl Out of Water

Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman
on May 2nd 2017
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Family, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Pages: 350
Goodreads

Reaction Upon Reading: This did nothing for me


“There’s something satisfying about going faster than you can on the legs you were born with.” 


Synopsis:

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves


“I fucking did it. I ollied. A shitty ollie, but still – if a tree falls in the forest, and it was a shitty tree, the tree still fell, right?” 


Overall Thoughts:

Ugh I don’t know where to start with this. This book did absolutely nothing for me at all. I put it down numerous times and I was skimming and scanning to try and speed the plot up. Nothing really happened at all. Anise is pretty much the same person at the end of the book as she was at the start.

‘Girl out of Water’ is ‘coming of age’ story about a girl named Anise.

Anise has surfing in her blood. She lives and breathes her love of being out on the water, so when her Aunty is badly injured in a car accident and she and her father are on the next flight out to Nebraska, Anise is crushed. This was meant to be her last summer with her friends, they had plans of how to make the most of it before they all go their separate ways to college. *cue the sad music*

Anise finds herself as the surrogate mother to her three younger cousins. Two twin boys obsessed with skateboarding and a moody pre-teen who keeps shutting her out. Nebraska is a far cry from the beaches she was expecting, but before you know it Anise has swapped her surfboard for a skateboard and a boy who is nothing like she expected.

I was hooked on this storyline until Anise become super whiny and the plot felt like it was crawling towards her relationship and returning home at the end of the summer. There was a lot of what I would consider ‘filler’ content in the story. It was so realistic that the timing felt realistic too. It would take chapters and chapters for anything remotely interesting to take place.

Anise basically goes through this spiral of not wanting to end up like her mother, while doing exactly the same things her mother did; running away, shutting people out, keeping secrets. I will admit I was surprised her mother didn’t make an appearance at all in the book. Also, how could her father uproot her life and then make her in charge of three children all day every day?! This makes no sense to me at all. Where is she going to college? Has she changed her mind about that now…and what about Lincoln? Too many things annoyed so I am just going to stop.

I will be forgetting this book in a hurry.



What did you think of this book?

Leave a comment below.

Rating Report
Plot
three-half-stars
Characters
three-stars
Writing
three-half-stars
Pacing
three-stars
Cover
four-half-stars
Overall: three-half-stars

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
on June 27th 2017
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, GLBT, Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 513
Goodreads

Reaction Upon Reading: Literary perfection.


“It’s beginning to feel like he’s shuffling his way through the seven deadly sins, in ascending order of my favourites.” 


Synopsis:

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.


“God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends.” 


Overall Thoughts:

This book is seriously perfection! The cover stole my heart initially but then the characters did the rest. How do I even convey my feelings about this gem? Go and read it, review done…just kidding…I shall attempt to make this review flow because my feelings are everywhere.

I usually have a ‘fear’ of big books and yet I devoured this so quickly. I barely even noticed the length, I just wanted more, more, more. What kept me engaged was how funny and sassy the characters were.

Monty is the whiny brat but he has the best banter ever. He is constantly getting himself into trouble and everyone just puts up with his shenanigans. When it gets ‘too much’ his friends call him on it and promptly put him in his place. If trouble is a foot then Monty is bound to be in the middle of it all.

Percy is perfection. He is proper, kind, good-natured, plays the violin and is Monty’s number one supporter. The love he has for Monty is so sweet. When the two were being pig-headed about their feelings I want to bash their heads together repeatedly!

Felicity is an extremely intelligent bookworm. She comes across cold and disinterested, but you best believe she cares for her brother Monty and his friend Percy. She is observant, smart mouthed and won’t put up with your BS.

The three of them together is the best Trio I have read since ‘Harry Potter’.

This book is surely going to win some awards because the diversity is outstanding. What makes it even better is everything covered is given time, care and attention to explain. I love how it is all treated with the most utmost respect. Well planned and written!

  • Bisexual character
  • M/M romance
  • Disability
  • Characters with different ethnicities
  • Anxiety

Historical fiction is moving its way up the ranks for me. This year I have had the pleasure of reading ‘Echo’ and ‘Salt to the Sea’. Now I can add this to the list of HF loves. All I want to do in life is travel and this book allowed me to tour the continent in a time period I would have loved to live in. Paris, Spain, Greece – where do I sign up?

Pirates, magic, uncouth behaviour, highwaymen, set in the 18th century, touring the continent, the greatest trio ever and a crazed Duke. Need I say more? Go and read this now. 

EDIT – Omg, this is a series?! How did I not know this? It wasn’t until I was writing this review and looking up the ISBN number did I discover that there is another book ‘The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy’. Say no more, take my money!


“Just thinking about all that blood.” I nearly shudder. “Doesn’t it make you a bit squeamish?”
“Ladies haven’t the luxury of being squeamish about blood,” she replies, and Percy and I go fantastically red in unison.” 


What did you think of this book?

Are you just as excited for the sequel as me?

Rating Report
Plot
five-stars
Characters
five-stars
Writing
five-stars
Pacing
five-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: five-stars

The Female of the Species

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis, Amanda Dolan, Bittner Bolding, Dan Justis
on September 20th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, High School, Mystery, Romance, Thriller, Tragedy
Goodreads

Reaction Upon Reading: These violent delights have violent ends


“You see it in all animals – the female of the species is more deadly than the male.’

‘Except humans.” 


Synopsis:

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.


“But boys will be boys, our favorite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll.” 


Overall Thoughts:

This book is all violence and angst and is basically a feminists dream! It beats down the notion of ‘boys will be boys’, deals with loads of moral questions/dilemmas – which leave you in a quite a grey area, it calls out society on its horrific views towards rape, doesn’t wrap everything up in a nice bow and has loads of complex characters and themes. Basically, as far as contemporary fictions go, this book is pushing the boundaries and I love it!

Alex is all kinds of twisted. We meet Alex after the rape and murder of her sister. She has spent the last few years lurking in the shadows and attempting to detach herself from society. She is intense! Alex doesn’t seem to fit the social norms and therefore doesn’t conform to society’s expectations of a teenage girl. She’s kind of awkward, weird and her conversation skills are a little lacklustre. She will beat down anyone who makes a rape joke and she took justice into her own hands by murdering her sister’s killer and getting away with it (Is that twisted or what?!). Just when you think she has no empathy, she blindsides you with the way she cares for puppies and kittens each week in a shelter. Alex doesn’t fit any boxes. The scary thing is, each time she did something horrific I didn’t feel like what she was doing was wrong. I found it sad that she wasn’t just twisted because of her sister’s murder, but that it is something she believes she genetically inherited from her father.

Jack – where do I begin with Jack? He is basically a big dumb idiot, but you like him anyway. He is a stereotypical high school boy that thinks with his hormones and not his brain. His relationship with Alex was a quite slow burn and even though I didn’t approve of every choice and decision he made, he definitely grew up throughout the book. By the end of it, I was rooting for him to make the right choice and have some happiness.

Peekay (Claire) is the Preacher’s Kid. She is ridiculously likeable, real, honest and I just wanted to be her friend. We meet her after a bad breakup when she is really going through a phase of discovering herself. She is the preacher’s kid and yet she is quite fond of drinking and partying. Her parents are pretty cool though and are really supportive of her finding her place in the world…which means trying things out for herself. Peekay worked with Alex at the shelter and was pretty much the whole reason Alex was able to come out of her shell and make friends. Yay Peekay!

Branley really surprised me. I thought she was going to be another vapid mean girl, but her motivations were much more interesting. I love that she was written that way because she feared being thought of as stupid and ultimately tossed away. I did hate a lot of her choices, but she was a real character! Someone we have all met at some stage in our lives.

One issue I have is that the cover is very misleading. It is bright and funky looking, leading me as the reader to believe I am about to read some happy bubblegum pop type contemporary. The book is very dark and I think that the cover should reflect this more.

Basically if you want a book that pushes the boundaries and ultimately leaves you with all the feels, this is it.

Loves:

  • There are puppies!
  • Complex characters.
  • Challenges societies views on rape and sex.
  • Characters I want to be friends.
  • Characters that are 100% relatable – we all know these people.
  • The writing style was beautiful. Lots of quotable lines.
  • Blood…murder…revenge!
  • It is raw, bold and dark, like really dark.

“Anger makes you tired, but guilt keeps you from falling asleep.” 


What did you think of this book?

Leave a comment below.

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
four-half-stars
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: four-stars

Heartless

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
on November 8th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings, Romance
Pages: 453
Goodreads

Reaction Upon Reading: Not the ending I was expecting at all!


“The easiest way to steal something, is for it to be given willingly.” 


Synopsis:

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.


“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.” 


Overall Thoughts:

Did I love this as much as Cinder? No – This book is very different and I don’t know whether to celebrate or cry that it is a stand alone.

I think I will celebrate because as much as I did love the book there were a lot of flaws and holes. I did pick it up and put it back down 3 or 4 times. So it did take me a while to finish. I only feel like crying because I still have so many questions!

Cath has caught the eye of the King. He wishes to make her his bride, much to Cath’s dismay because her goal in life is to open a bakery with her BFF Mary Ann (Friendship goals). Cath attends a black and white ball (unbeknown to her) in a striking red dress, thanks to her mother who is thrilled that she has managed to catch the King’s eye. Before he can propose Cath flees the ball and finds herself alone with the new court Jester, Jest. A wild-eyed, mysterious magician who is quite the charmer.

Nothing much happens for a while, it is a lot of back of forth pining and whining on Cath’s behalf. Then around two-thirds of the way through we hit some action!

The ending of the book was really its saving grace. It evolves quite quickly and really was quite unexpected because this book is a stand alone, I assumed I would get a happy ending. Oh boy was I wrong. To see Cath transform over the course of the book from a happy go lucky girl to a cold-hearted Queen was incredible. The way she spoke to Mary-Ann on the last few pages had my jaw on the floor. Where did Cath go?!

Loves:

  • Everything about Wonderland makes me smile. I like its silliness and nonsense.
  • I really really really like Jest. Can we have a prequel about him?!
  • There was so much baking. I was perpetually hungry and craving sweets.
  • The rhymes and nonsense that ended up being prophecies were very creative!
  • It was great big fairytale which didn’t have a happy ending – don’t get me wrong – I was sad but it was poweful.

Questions I still have:

  • What happens next?
  • What was the deal with all the things that would grow in Catherine’s room over night?
  • When does Hatter go mad? Has it already happened?
  • Will Raven still attempt to fulfil his mission? Or has Cath’s heart truly gone bad?
  • Is there going to be repercussion with the pumpkin seeds that came from Chess?
  • Why did the King want her? It just didn’t add up to me. She was annoying.
  • What happens with Mary Ann now?
  • Do Cath’s parents feel guilty? I hope so, silly selfish parents.

“But hoping,” he said, “is how the impossible can be possible after all.” 


What did you think of this book?

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Crooked Kingdom

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo
on September 27th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 536
Goodreads

Reaction Upon Reading: Deliciously bad!


“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”


Synopsis:

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

After pulling off a seemingly impossible heist in the notorious Ice Court, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker feels unstoppable. But life is about to take a dangerous turn—and with friends who are among the deadliest outcasts in Ketterdam city, Kaz is going to need more than luck to survive in this unforgiving underworld.


“Maybe there were people who lived those lives. Maybe this girl was one of them. But what about the rest of us? What about the nobodies and the nothings, the invisible girls? We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary. That was how you survived when you weren’t chosen when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.” 


Overall Thoughts:

I would love to spend a day in Ketterdam and explore the debauchery and chaos this wonderful den of sin has to offer.

‘Crooked Kingdom’ begins a week after ‘Six of Crows’ and takes place in Ketterdam *swoon*. This book is less focused on a heist and more focused on taking down Van Eck’s empire. It is a lot of political schemes and character defamation. I didn’t think Kaz could get darker but there were points in this book where I truly felt like he was lost for good. IT WAS BRILLIANT! 

This book doesn’t have the same excitement and wow factor as ‘Six of Crows’ but the characters and schemes redeem the slower pacing. It is a large read – 500 pages! I thankfully chose to listen to the audiobook which I believed helped me to follow the ever changing plot and twists

I thought Kuwei would have a bigger part – I mean he is central to the plot of book 1. He was just kind of there – such a missed opportunity.

The death towards the end of the book seemed a little cheap. It just happened and because of the mantra ‘no mourners, no funerals’ I didn’t get a chance to feel anything. Which means, by the time I got to the next chapter I wasn’t bothered. Which is terrible because I did love that character. I feel like the death was poorly timed and written. A cheap gimmick to attempt to give people the feels.

I did, however, enjoy that not everything was wrapped up in a neat bow, this is Ketterdam after all. The characters are all off on their own pathways now and it is pretty much the best they are going to get. It felt like each character was at peace and able to move forward with their lives, even if that means drifting apart from one another.

KAZ AND INEJ HELD HANDS!!!

Overall I enjoyed this book. I think the plot is so beautifully planned out and woven together and the characters are just magic. I am pleased it is only a duology. I think a third book would have been too much and some of the charm of the setting and characters would have worn off.

I am sad to say goodbye to these characters, but I haven’t read the ‘Shadow and Bone’ series yet, so it won’t be goodbye to this world.


Favourite Character:

Wylan Van Eck

I didn’t realise I would fall so in love with Wylan’s character. In the first book, he was just kind of a character who was there, he served a purpose to Kaz’s master plan.

In this book he was perfection. His relationship with Jasper gave me butterflies. Can we have a spin-off series about this two, please?

He may not be able to read but he makes up for it by being wickedly clever and creative. He managed to get the crew out of sticky situations.


“Fear is a Phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.” 


Least Favourite Character:

Pekka Rollins

This is obvious! He is the evil man who ruined Kaz’s life.

I didn’t like how he was always so cocky and arrogant, so you best believe I am giddy with excitement and Inej’s appearance in his ‘guarded’ home. Will he ever remember Jordy’s name? I don’t think so – which makes me dislike him even more. When he spoke about being able to redeem his businesses I wanted to slap him upside the head. How dare he think he can return to Ketterdam without repercussions. Silly Rollins.


“Has anyone noticed this whole city is looking for us, mad at us, or wants to kill us?”
“So?” said Kaz.
“Well, usually it’s just half the city.” 


What did you think of this book?

Leave a comment below

Rating Report
Plot
five-stars
Characters
five-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
four-half-stars
Cover
four-stars
Overall: four-half-stars

5 Makeup Products I want But Don’t Own

I don’t know about you but I have an ever growing make-up list, it’s a little bit insane. These are just 5 makeup products that I want but don’t own…


Naked 2 – Urban Decay

@flawles.shop


Posie K – Kylie Cosmetics

@elinevanlent 


Lip Injection – Too Faced

@jun_ko13 


Venus Palette – Limecrime

@paperluster 


Spray Fix+ – Mac

@beautyproductsaremycardio


 

What are your makeup must-haves?

Leave a comment below.

The Sun is Also a Star

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
on November 1st 2016
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Family, High School, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Pages: 348
Goodreads

Reaction Upon Reading: Heartbreakingly Diverse!


“There’s a Japanese phrase that I like: Koi no Yokan. It doesn’t mean love at first sight. It’s closer to love at second sight. It’s the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them. Maybe you don’t love them right away, but it’s inevitable that you will.”


Synopsis:

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?


“Maybe part of falling in love with someone else is also falling in love with yourself.”


Overall Thoughts:

I adored ‘Everything Everything’ and I was really worried that I had hyped this book up in my mind too much, but I actually liked it better!

The characters were so diverse in their culture and personalities and I felt like every piece of dialogue was quotable and relatable to my own life.

The story begins with Natasha, a Jamaican girl whose family is going be deported in 12 hours. She loves science and facts. One fact she knows for sure is that love is an illusion or better yet, a delusion for those who are struck by it. Natasha is a strong character who is very true to herself. She keeps it real and sticks to her guns.  On the day of her deportation she meets Daniel, a Korean-American boy who is all about love and poetry…basically the polar opposite of herself. He wants to rebel against his family’s wishes of becoming a doctor, yet he is unsure of what life has in store for him. Daniel is an optimist. He is pure, kind and honest. Daniel is the kind of character that you root for.

After meeting, Daniel explains to Natasha that there is science behind falling in love, better yet, falling in love at first sight. He tells her of this study where there are set questions that pairs answer followed by a length of time spent looking each other directly in the eyes. Thus begins the journey of Natasha and Daniel.

The stories in this book aren’t just related to witnessing Natasha and Daniel fall in love. We hear from multiple characters about their aspirations, views on love alongside their own trials and tribulations. I especially loved the insight we got into each of the families. Natasha struggles with a father whose own ambition and hunger for the spotlight have ripped apart their family. Daniel struggles with an overprotective father who disapproves of his American ways – yet he is unable to fit into either of his two cultures. To his family, he is too ‘American’ and yet to his friends he is too ‘Korean’. This is something I can’t relate to personally but have seen my own students struggle with. An identity crisis is a hard thing at any age, but as a teenager can be crippling.

Daniel reminds me a lot of most seventeen-year-olds. There is so much pressure to go to university immediately after high school or enter the workforce in particular areas, yet what seventeen years olds confidently know what they want to do with their lives? I think Daniel’s character is a great role model for just exploring what you are passionate about and battling against those external pressures.

This book is very similar to Eleanor and Park, both in writing style, diversity and the use of alternating POVs. I loved this story and will read anything else Nicola Yoon writes! The ending was perfect! Everything came full circle, reinforcing the whole notion of the book of fate and destiny. You make think it is merely a coincidence but everything has aligned for a reason.


“We are capable of big lives. A big history. Why settle? Why choose the practical thing, the mundane thing? We are born to dream and make the things we dream about.”


Loves:

  • That book cover!
  • The book is so freaking quotable it’s ridiculous!
  • The audiobook is an absolute must. It brings life to these characters that I don’t think any other reading experience could provide. The accents, expressions and inflexions of the two characters are integral to the plot.
  • A book about diverse cultures!
  • A book that discusses the painful reality of being an immigrant. Both characters are immigrants.
  • Each character had a very different POV – their viewpoints on love were very different. This meant they were complex. Yay!
  • I love that the story takes place over a day – this is quite unique and refreshing.
  • I actually oddly enjoyed the random POVs of the other characters – the train conductor, the security lady and the secretary – only because I felt like it explained some of the cause and effect of those coincidences or fate that drew the two lovebirds together.
  • IRENE!!!

Dislikes:

  • It felt very much like INSTALOVE – which is the worst kind.
  • It was somewhat unbelievable to be strangers to head over heels in love in 8 hours.

“I didn’t know you this morning, and now I don’t remember not knowing you.”


What did you think of this book? Leave a comment below.

Rating Report
Plot
four-half-stars
Characters
four-half-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
four-half-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: four-half-stars

I’ll Be Yours

I'll Be Yours by Jenny B. Jones
Genres: Contemporary, High School, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Sport
Goodreads

Reaction Upon Reading: Sometimes you fall for the boy you least expect


“The wrong boy will bore you or annoy you,” Mom said. “But the right one? He’ll make you laugh, make you feel special.”


Synopsis:

The day Andrew Levin arrives at Washington High, Harper O’Malley knows he’ll make the perfect starter boyfriend. The school’s newest band geek is totally in Harper’s league, yet completely out of this late bloomer’s reach. Between fitting in with a new family, scoring the first chair in band, and rescuing dogs for the local animal shelter, Harper’s never had the opportunity to hone her dating skills. But even though Harper’s love life is far from perfect, she’s got the perfect plan.

Harper knows she’s insane to agree to tutor Ridley Estes, a notorious heartbreaker and the star of her high school’s football team—but in exchange, he’s offered to school her in the game of love. Just when she sees promise with her crush, a football scandal rocks her family, her town, and Ridley’s entire future. Harper suddenly has everything to lose—her family, friends, and even her heart. When the dust of the scandal settles, nothing will be the same. Including the girl who asked the most popular jock to teach her about love.


“I smiled at my champion, but he just shook his head and muttered more words in Spanish. I was pretty sure he either called me a beautiful tropical flower or a raving lunatic. Sometimes I get my nouns mixed up.”


Overall Thoughts:

Harper O’Malley has no idea how to talk to boys. Which is a stark contrast from her life as the football coaches daughter, where her house is often full of players. She is finally ready to learn how to make a move on the new boy Andrew Levin. He ticks all of her ‘perfect boyfriend’ boxes. He’s a band geek, just like her, but she doesn’t even know how to talk to him.

Ridley Estes is the star of the high school football team and he’s been given a verbal offer to the college of his dreams, but only if he can get his grades up and get out of trouble. He’s got his heart set on Harper’s dad’s team for reasons that no one else knows. Ridley offers lessons in ‘love’ in exchange for tutoring from Harper. Harper steps into Ridley’s world and learns there is more to him than meets the eye.

I am a sucker for a contemporary romance and this book takes on some important heavy issues: abuse, neglect, family and trust.

Harper’s character is complex and well developed. She is dealing with some horrific trauma at the hands of her biological mother. Her distrust of people and love of dogs was my favourite character trait. Her voice and personality rang through and felt very true. She was sassy, kind and vulnerable. I loved the way she opened up more and more throughout the novel.

Ridley was such a swoon-worthy character! He is easily one of my favourite contemporary book boyfriends. I loved the way he treated Harper, their banter was hilarious. His lessons on helping her to be ‘girlfriend’ material were gorgeous and sweet. He never once made fun of her and took every question she had in stride. When he finally kisses her, it’s magical.

Loves:

  • The cover. It even has little football formations surrounding the title.
  • The perfect combination of humour and drama.
  • Harper being a foster child adopted into her family as an older child is a story that isn’t often told.
  • Ridley doesn’t lead the life or have the persona that he leads people to believe. This adds more depth to his character.
  • Coach through all of his faults and mistakes was still so likeable. It was easy to forgive him when you could feel his remorse oozing from the page.
  • Reminds me of one of my all time favourite teen movies ‘A Cinderella Story’.

This is my first Jenny B. Jones book. I will definitely be looking at what else she has to offer. 


“He framed my face now, and I met his stare in the dark of the car. “I think you’re beautiful.” My heart folded like an origami swan.”


What did you think of this book? Leave a comment below.

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: four-stars

The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1) by Alexandra Bracken
Published by Disney Hyperion on December 18th 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 488
Goodreads

Reaction Upon Reading: Woah I can’t believe she did that!


“The Darkest Minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”


Synopsis:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.


“Let’s carpe the hell out of this diem.”


Overall Thoughts:

I freaking loved this book…but it has taken me a while to decide that I did.

The book begins with children all over the world being killed by a superpower inducing plague. The ones that do survive are left with powers (Psi powers) that are then categorised into colours by the adults. The kids are quickly rounded up and hoarded into concenration like camps for the safety of the population.

  • Blues – Telekinesis
  • Greens – Geniuses
  • Yellows – Electrokinesis
  • Oranges – Mind Control
  • Reds – Pyrokinesi

Ruby is 1o years old when she is sent off to Thurmond – a “rehabilitation” camp for Psi kids. She manages to avoid detection and keeps her true powers a secret for almost 6 years. One day the truth comes out and she must flee Thurmond or she will suffer the same fate as the reds and oranges that came before her.

Ruby’s story is heartbreaking, how she came to Thurmond and why she will never be able to go home. This tale gives a glimpse into the lives of the Psi kids and makes you really question who the true monsters are.

The book had a very WWII mass hysteria, persecution and witchhunt vibe to it. Why I wasn’t sure I like it was because it was very slow and not a lot happened.  I am not sure if I want to read the rest of the series. I am happy with where we are at (mostly) that I don’t want to ruin it by opening up more problems, conflict and issues that need to be resolved.

What led me to 5 stars was the concept, the secondary characters and the conflict.


Loves:

  • I love the dystopian Genre and could really see some potential for a future movie franchise out of this.
  • Love the concept of colours = powers
  • This book feels realistically terrifying. I actually found myself thinking of a future where this could potentially happen, and it isn’t that unbelievable.
  • Not everything is spelt out for you. You have to put the pieces together yourself. I appreciate not being treated like a dumb reader.
  • The secondary characters were more likeable than the main characters – This is both positive and negative, but I will put it here.
  • SUZUME – I never knew I could love a character who doesn’t speak so much!
  • That ending had me nearly launching the book across the room – Good or  bad, I like a book that makes me feel.

Dislikes:

  • Ruby was quite annoying for the majority of the book. Her reluctance to accept who she was and use her powers was frustrating. I hope she has some redemption in the books to come.
  • The pacing was quite slow. I felt like a good portion of the book was spent in the van and it got a little lacklustre after a while.
  • I don’t get Ruby and Liam….not all YA books need romance people!
  • World development?! We don’t know much about the world at all.
  • I don’t understand how they were able to contain all the children. THEY HAVE POWERS…why did they never rebel?

 


“We’ll just have to try to make better mistakes tomorrow.”


What did you think of this book? Have you continued with the series? Leave a comment below.


Echo

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
on February 24th 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Magical Fantasy
Pages: 587
Goodreads

 

Reaction Upon Reading: Magic and War were someone merged together! Absolutely enchanting.


“Music does not have a race or a disposition! Every instrument has a voice that contributes. Music is a universal language. A universal religion of sorts. Certainly, it’s my religion. Music surpasses all distinctions between people”  


Synopsis:

Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.


“Everybody has a heart. Sometimes you gotta work hard to find it”


Friedrich:

Friedrich’s story is set in pre-WWII when Hitler is chancellor and making waves.

Friedrich is severely bullied for his wild imagination and love of music. It becomes too much to bare when Friedrich is beaten on the schoolyard for conducting a non-existent orchestra and the headmaster refuses to do anything about it. He tells Friedrich’s father that his son needs to be less of a ‘target’. His father won’t stand for this and pulls Friedrich out of school immediately.

He takes Friedrich to work with him at the Harmonica factory. Here the workers take it upon themselves to supply Friedrich with the course materials themselves.

Hitler’s youth has started up and a fellow worker begins to harass Friedrich to sign up, saying it will do him a service to side with Hitler to avoid persecution for his imperfections, a large birthmark that covers much of his face. Friedrich’s sister who is also heavily brainwashed through the German Girls League is willing to turn her back on the family to further her career and please Hitler for what she believes is the good of Germany.

I love Friedrich and his father as characters! Although his sister is able to somewhat redeem herself at the end of the story, she still feels so lost and unreachable. I fear due to the amount of time passed that she will never be part of their family again, which is quite sad. However, Friedrich has the ending we knew he deserved!


“She said people on hard times deserved to have beauty in their lives as much as anyone else, whether or not they could pay their rent or were walking to a breadline. Granny said that just because someone was poor didn’t mean they were poor of heart.”


Mike:

Mike’s story is set in the middle of the great depression.

Mike and his younger brother Frankie start their story living a destitute children’s home for unwanted children. Their Granny who was their caregiver became too old to look after them and send them to the only children’s home with a Piano. It is due to their talent and sheer luck that they are rescued from this home and brought to Amaryllis drive.

Not everything is as it seems, however, the lady of the house wasn’t after 2 boys, she had requested one girl. The boys soon realise why this is the case and begin to see that their luck has run out. Mike pleads with Eunice to keep Frankie and says he will leave and join the travelling Harmonica Band and then she will only have one child to care for.

When Mike thinks Eunice has broken her promise he does something drastic, ending his part of the book.


“Mrs. Potter said you were a kind and loving soul, underneath all the rest. I guess that means your heart’s so sad that it’s hard to get out from under the weight. When I was sad about my mother dying, Granny used to say grief is the heaviest thing to carry alone. So I know all about that” 


Ivy:

Ivy’s story is set after the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

Her family uproot her live from Fresno, California and take her to a new town where they have a chance of having a house of their own. The owners of this house have been placed in Japanese internment camp, as they are suspected spies.

Ivy struggles with what she knows in her heart is right and the facts that are in front of her. She befriends Susan, a neighbour who is white able to attend Lincoln Main. Ivy is Mexican and in her new town she is perceived to be dirty and disease ridden, she is sent to a segregated school on a piece of farmland that does little to stimulate her or help her learn. Ivy is heartbroken that she can be treated this way and begins to see the parallels between her and the Japanese family that own the land she lives on.

Ivy’s story ends at a heartbreaking pinnacle, that makes you question where all the other characters are now at this point in time.


“A weight pressed on his heart. How could he want something and fear it so much at the same time?”


Overall Thoughts:

This novel is monstrous in size but so easy to devour. Who knew a magical and historical fiction book could be so enchanting?

The way it was written was extremely creative. You have 3 children with a love of music who share a magical harmonica. They are able to share this harmonica because each ‘Part’ takes place years after one another. They each end on a ‘cliffhanger‘ and it isn’t until part 4 when all questions are answered and problems are resolved.

I was so happy with the ending. It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, but real and interconnected. We got to see the prophecy play out, the characters and where they each are now and surprisingly how they are all (including secondary characters) connected to each other.

It makes you think how many others during this war may have a similar tales to tell.

Each time I finished a part and had decided that that character was definitely my favourite, but now that I am finished I honestly can’t pick. They each had such powerful stories with themes, morals and lessons that are so important to understand. It’s too cruel to choose, so I wont.

Well worth the read!



What did you think of this book?

Leave a comment below.

Rating Report
Plot
five-stars
Characters
four-half-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
five-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: five-stars