Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Review: The Selection

The Selection
Release Date: 7th June 2012
Pages: 327
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Author: Kiera Cass
Source: Purchased at Waterstones
Purchase Book: Amazon UK | Amazon US

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

I was recommended this book by the Sales Assistant at Waterstones Piccadilly Circus. As I love watching romantic reality shows like Ready for Love and The Bachelor, although I wish they weren't as staged. The thing that really intrigued me about it was the blurb - "In a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels, The Selection is the chance of a lifetime: to compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon's heart. But for American Singer it means turning her back on her secret love, and leaving home for a prize she doesn't want".
As you can see, its not exactly like the dating shows, but better! America already is in love, and is only entering for the sake of her family. Confused? Then read on.

The Selection follows the story of America Singer, who lives in a world of social castes. America herself is a five, at the lower end of the system. With the lower castes obviously not as well off as the higher, America's mother convinces her to enter the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart. It's simple, marry the Prince, be rich and save your family! The downside... well every single other girl want's the same thing. To give this story a bit of juice, America doesn't freely enter the competition with an open heart, she is secretly in love with Aspen, who belongs to a lower caste, which in this world, doesn't get approval from your parents. Assuming she wouldn't be chosen, she enters and gets the shock of a lifetime when she becomes one of the chosen 35. From here on out, there is drama! Think cat fights, sabotage, confusion and more!

In the middle of all the competing and romance is a bit of political drama with rebel attacks due to the caste system. At first, I thought this was a bit odd, but when you get into this book, you come to appreciate the small details outside the Palace walls. The royal life is not as black and white as you would think, and you really get to see multiple sides of the royal family. It is a bit of a back story, but the lower castes obviously don't like how things are run. This ultimately will continue and build up through the series.

When it comes to boy candy, there is enough to go around. With the choice of Aspen (America's secret boyfriend) and Prince Maxon, America has a choice to make. The guy that will save her family's fate or the one that has always been there for her. I found myself torn over and over again who I thought she should end up with. Both of them have qualities fit for America, drawing you into a love triangle that you can't get enough of. Prince Maxon may be the one making the choice, but with America having her own private show on the side, who will ultimately make the decision?

The only downside of the story for me is America's need to mess things up. I understand she is confused, but her constant need to lash out at people that didn't deserve it and to disobey rules just irritated me. Then again, it's this confusion that keeps you on your toes because you never know which way the story will go.
The story was so addictive, I ran to the store the next day to pick up the second book. I'm just disappointed that I can't read book three until next year.

This cover grabbed me instantly, the gorgeous dress and simplicity. You really don't need to see much else because you spend more time in the book.

Final Comments:
I loved this book and highly recommend it to any YA or dystopian fans. If you love your reality dating shows, well then this is perfect for you. Not only do you have a dozen girls vying for one man's attention, but you have a second on the side which spices it up!
And if you find yourself wanting to know more about Prince Maxon, there is a book from his perspective, going into more detail behind the scenes, titled The Prince.

Continuing my book loving spree, I'm giving it 5 acorns as it was one of the best books I have read!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Review: Beautiful Disaster

Beautiful Disaster
Release Date: 14th August 2012
Pages: 416
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Author: Jamie McGuire
Source: Purchased (Kmart Australia)
Purchase Book: Amazon UK | Amazon US


Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

I chose this book on a whim while I was hunting for something new to read. My 18 year old cousin and I were reading the back of every single book to see what sounded interesting. To be honest I did put this book down a few times as the blurb on the back was confusing and didn't give much insight into the plot. It deserved something much better.

Another refreshing change for me, this book had no supernatural storyline. To put it simply, its an intense story about a girl named Abby who heads off to college with her best friend America looking for a new start, away from her family who caused enough trouble for her as it is.

The story wouldn't be complete without Travis, the dangerous tattoo covered hot guy who has girls throwing themselves at him from every angle... Abby obviously finds his arrogance annoying and a turn off. Although, what bad guy can resist a girl that's a challenge?
The difference with Travis is that he is unbelievably passionate and devoted to those close to him. You can feel every ounce of emotion through the pages. Jamie McGuire obviously knows how to write from the heart.

Other major characters in the story are Shep and America. America is Abby's best friend and Shep is Travis's. They are two very supportive characters who I think play a vital part in the story. Jamie goes into so much detail with personalities that you feel you already know and love them all.

It is written from Abby's perspective which I always feel grabs the reader in more as you feel like you are there with her the whole way. The best way I can describe what this story does to you is comparing it to a snow globe. You shake and enjoy watching the snow fall and then have to shake again, watching the same thing happen over and over again. I put it down to the fact that Abby is a bit of a drama queen who can't decide what she want's in a guy. If you have ever been in that situation where you feel a guy isn't right for you but you can't resist him, then honestly this is your book. This book sucks you in and you just can't help but read through the night... at least that's what I did. Abby and Travis's relationship is as complex as it gets but I think that is what makes the story. After all, who wants a simple story about a good girl catching the bad boy - It's done all the time.

The other great thing about this story is that its set in a college and not high school, so you don't get that immature teen romance, these character have a bit more perspective which is what I think makes it more intense. I do have to advise any parents buying a book for their younger child, as this is based in college, you do get the occasional bedroom scene that gets down to detail. It wasn't that bad, but I feel this story needed that oomph just to emphasize both the passion and strains in their relationships.

A decent cover, nothing that is too attention seeking and the blurb is useless, but I am extremely glad I gave this book a chance. It's a random butterfly in a jar and I am not entirely sure how that connects with the story.

Final Comments:
I loved this book, despite the annoying stop and go throughout the book. But I have to give it to Jamie, nothing could stop me as I stayed up a whole night trying to finish this book. I am only disappointed that the only follow up to this book is the story told from Travis's perspective. While I definitely will go out and pick it up, I would have love to see this book turned into a series. I have no idea where it would go, but I'm just not ready to abandon Abby and Travis yet.

If you do decide to continue on, check out Travis's story in Walking Disaster which is out now. When I get a hold of it, I will follow up with that review.

Once again in my journey to find books I love, I'm giving it 5 acorns as It sucked me in! While I am not usually into bad boy types, I doubt I could avoid Travis.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Upcoming Reviews - Hello Australia!!

It's that time again for a round of reviews. I recently moved down to Australia so my life has been all over the place while I organized things. While I get settled in, I have been catching up on my reading, a healthy book a day!

I have just finished reading the first two books from The Selection trilogy by Kiera Cass. I absolutely adored these books and I am now eagerly awaiting the final installment. I am a fan of romantic reality shows like the bachelor and ready for love, so when I heard of this book, I thought I would give it a shot and glad I did. If you are like me and love a little competition for love, check these out and I promise to get the review up in the next few days.

If you have read any amazing YA books recently, or even something unmissable, please do let me know as I am looking to read a whole collection of books in the next few weeks.

Unfortunately the other books I was meant to review which I previously mentioned are in my container on the boat, heading down from England, so I have to put them to the side for now. In the meantime I will be reading Switched by Amanda Hocking and Spellcaster by Claudia Gray. 

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Review: Back to BlackBrick

Back to BlackBrick
Release Date: 7th February 2013 (Out now!)
Pages: 272
Publisher: Orion Childrens Books
Author: Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Source: Purchased (Waterstones)
Purchase Book: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Cosmo's brother Brian died when he was ten years old. His mum hides her grief by working all the hours God sends and Cosmo lives with his grandparents. They've been carefree days as Granddad buys him a horse called John and teaches him all he knows about horses. But the good times have to come to an end and although he doesn't want to admit it, Cosmo knows his Granddad is losing his mind. So on one of the rare occasions when Granddad seems to recognise him, Cosmo is bemused that he gives him a key to Blackbrick Abbey and urges him to go there. Cosmo shrugs it off, but gradually Blackbrick draws him in...

Cosmo arrives there, scared and lonely, and is dropped off at the crumbling gates of a huge house. As he goes in, the gates close, and when he turns to look, they're rusty and padlocked as if they haven't been opened in years. Cosmo finds himself face to face with his grandfather as a young man, and questions begin to form in his mind: can Cosmo change the course of his family's future?

I was recommended this book by a sales assistant at Waterstones. It is the debut novel by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, officially out today!
To be honest before I even heard what it was about, I was sold by the cover. Something about those gigantic gates intrigues me. Before I get into the review I have to say that behind the books, Sarah is a really down to earth woman who surprised me by actually chatting with me on twitter.

This book is not my usual type, no obvious romance, teen drama, supernatural beings... It was however very refreshing and extremely moving. It follows the story of Cosmo and his struggle with dealing with his brothers accidental death and Grandfathers Alzheimer's, told in first person by the boy himself. Whether you know someone with Alzheimer's or not, this book will grab you. At first I thought, Sarah has an amazing insight that makes for an interesting read. As it turns out, her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's which makes this story feel that much more real. When we know someone with an illness, we do everything we can to make their life easier, from "googling" to going to the ends of the earth to find a cure... In this case, traveling back in time to BlackBrick. It is a read that will make any reader know what it's like to have a family member go through the same experience.

There are moments in the book that nearly tore me apart, but that is what pulls you in. The book does start slow but mid way through, it is kicked up a notch and you see a whole other side to the story. We learn that sometimes you wish you could turn back time, change the past to have a better future, but that's all it is.. a wish. We do our best to help those we love, but in the end its just our memories and relationships that count.

A fantastic cover that won me in a second. Without reading the blurb, you feel the sense of mystery and loss. The gate obviously leads you to somewhere... it is up to you to bring your own interpretation to what Cosmo's journey really is.

Final Comments:
I adored this book. the writing was brilliant and the story was gripping. For the first time, I felt like I was living in the shoes of a character, following every step he made and wishing I could do the same things If I was him. I would recommend this more to older children all the way to adults as there are parts that may not really be appropriate for a younger child. My only annoyance was the fact that Sarah had Cosmo insult my hometown of Sydney, saying she could of gone to so many better places. Therefore I am going to excuse it as a teenager venting about his mum going to another country, and not mine in particular.
All in all, I wish Sarah the best in her future novels, if they will be anything like this one, I will be ready to add them to my collection.

I'm giving it 5 acorns as I haven't read anything like this and it is absolutely gripping. It got me!


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Review: Finale

Finale (Hush, Hush Series) Book #4
Release Date: 25th October 2012
Pages: 464
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Source: Purchased signed edition (Waterstones)
Purchase Book: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Will love conquer all?

Nora and Patch thought their troubles were behind them. Hank is gone and they should be able to put his ugly vendetta to rest. But in Hank's absence, Nora has become the unwitting head of the Nephilim and must finish what Hank began. Which ultimately means destroying the fallen angels - destroying Patch.

Nora will never let that happen, so she and Patch make a plan: lead everyone to believe they have broken up, and work the system from the inside. Nora will convince the Nephilim that they are making a mistake in fighting the fallen angels, and Patch will find out everything he can from the opposing side. They will end this war before it can even begin.
But the best-laid plans often go awry. Nora is put through the paces in her new role and finds herself drawn to an addictive power she never anticipated.
As the battle lines are drawn, Nora and Patch must confront the differences that have always been between them and either choose to ignore them or let them destroy the love they have always fought for.

I had ordered this book long before it was due to come out as Waterstones had issued a limited number of signed copies for pre-order. Obviously, with the series being my favourite, I bought my copy. Before I go into my review, I must remind you there are three books before this and this is the very last in the series.
I suggest if you haven't read Silence, you should probably skip down to my final comments to avoid minor spoilers.

As with each book in the series, Silence ended with a cliffhanger. With Nora left in charge of the Nephilim, she is left with a choice, to take a side - stand with Patch or take the take lead of the Nephilim against everybody else. Both sides are under risk of major losses, so she must grow up and understand the world outside her Patch and Nora bubble, to take charge and protect those she loves.

Nora is a much stronger character in this book and she finally develops a spine. Patch... well lets just say he is just as strong as he always was, if anything he becomes less mysterious and you he finally opens up.

With a clear line now between the two sides, Patch and Nora must fight for each other and decide if they are strong enough to be together, or give it all up to join their sides.
The book is full of drama, scheming, back stabbing, lies, romance, suspense, action and more! By far the most compelling of the series, Becca leaves you wanting more.... but sadly this is where it all ends.

Keeping in line with previous covers, we see the same thing, Nora and Patch. Like Silence, it's again on the rocky shore, this time with Patch reaching out to Nora. A very dramatic cover with black feathers floating everywhere. As this book is full of suspence and romance, I couldn't have chosen a better cover to finish off the series. Below is a photo of Becca's autograph:

Final Comments:
I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it to fans of Becca, along with any YA readers. Again I suggest you read the previous books as they all tie in together and it would be a shame to miss something.
As mentioned above, there is no lack of drama, scheming, suspense, romance and action. It is utterly compelling and probably the best in the series. Becca has out done herself and well so since this is how we are parting ways with Patch and Nora.


Upcoming Reviews

After a break from blogging while I focused on my job, I am happy to announce my return with some new reviews! A fresh new batch for 2013!
This evening I popped by Waterstones at Piccadilly Circus, undecided on what to buy next. The branch has a late 10pm close which was perfect for my post dinner stroll home. With 10 minutes to closing, I was stuck, a wonderful sales assistant on the childrens/teen floor was more than happy to help me out. She took me around the entire section suggesting books and making each of them sound more exciting than the one before. For some odd reason that she didn't know herself, some of the books were on the shelf before the published date, which I was very happy to hear as it meant nobody could spoil it for me. You can find my final choices listed below. I chose Beautiful Creatures purely because of the movie and figured I would give the book a shot. The other three are all recommended by the sales assistant who said she loved them, her favourite being The Selection, which is apparently an amazing romantic drama... I will find out myself once I start reading.

1. Back to Black Brick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald (Out 7th Feb)
2. The Selection by Kiera Cass
3. Beautiful Creatures by Garcia Stohl
4. Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood (Out 7th Feb)

Has anyone read or heard of any of these titles?