Snapshot Review: Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer

Arcadia Awakens by Kai MeyerArcadia Awakens, with its unusual plot and rich setting, promised to be a bit more creative than a lot of the paranormal YA circulating at the moment. In the end, however, it didn’t quite work for me.

I found the writing quite clunky. Whether it’s Meyer’s style of writing or a consequence of the translation I don’t know, (Arcadia Awakens was originally written in German), but sentences didn’t flow as well as they could have and the dialogue felt stilted and awkward. I also didn’t feel the characters reacted convincingly to the often bizarre things that were going on around them. And while I love Greek mythology, the whole snake/cat romance just didn’t work for me here. A shame, as I could have really gotten into a Romeo and Juliet type romance with a mafia setting and some shapeshifters thrown in.

*Many thanks to Templar for providing a copy for review*

Advertisements

Book Breakup: The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie HarrisonAilsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she’s impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father’s court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power–or the magic–to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?

For some reason, I got my authors mixed up when I requested this on NetGalley. I vaguely thought this was a new novel by Eva Ibbotson. After thinking Ms Ibbotson’s writing wasn’t anywhere near as interesting as I remembered, I realised my mistake.

Continue reading

Book Review: Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

Nantucket Blue is a solid choice for a relaxing summer read. There’s lots I liked about this book: Jules and Cricket’s friendship, the subtle romance, the way sex was handled in a realistic and positive way, the subplot involving Cricket’s mother. Though Nantucket Blue won’t be going down as a personal favourite, this is a good read and worth checking out.

For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.

Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.

But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on–most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits–that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.

A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.

Nantucket Blue is about discovering yourself and who you want to be. Cricket, determined to be there for her best friend following the death of her mother, gets a job in Nantucket Blue, so she’ll be nearby if Jule’s needs her. But, as often happens in life, the death of someone who was a mother figure to both girls causes them to grow apart and Cricket has to figure out who she is without Jules. I thought the cracks in their relationship, the hurtful comments, the betrayal of confided secrets and little signs of how much they still cared was very well drawn. We’ve all experienced the sadness that comes from outgrowing a friendship and I thought Howland captured it realistically.

Continue reading

Book Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Since Perfect Chemistry is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine, I thought I would enjoy Katie McGarry’s work. Unfortunately this book was so cloying and melodramatic I just wanted to scrub it from my mind once I finished.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Let’s start with the semi-good. The relationship between Noah and his brother was the most interesting part of the book. The whole fostering/adoption storyline was written, like everything else, in such a way as to try to manipulate an emotional response from the reader. However, it did attempt to convey how difficult and painful it must be to watch what’s left of your family become part of a new one without you. That being said, Noah certainly didn’t help his case. Instead of acting responsibly and trying to take steps to build a life where he could eventually be considered a suitable guardian, he does the complete opposite.

After initially being intrigued by Echo’s scars, I got frustrated the longer we were left in the dark. The secret of what happened to her seemed overly drawn out and anti-climatic once everything was finally revealed. I would have preferred more time spent on Echo actually dealing with her trauma and the reader getting to know her mother (who only appears briefly near the end and isn’t painted in the best light, given that she is mentally ill). The complex relationship between Echo and her mother wasn’t explored as it should have been, which was disappointing.

Unfortunately, the book spends far too much time on the ‘romance’, which I didn’t care for in the slightest. I was really turned off by the constant pet names (“siren”, “nymph”, “seductress”) and the way Noah talked was particularly cringe-worthy. Noah is clearly meant to be the ‘bad boy’ with hidden depths in need of a ‘good woman’ to get him on the straight and narrow, but in reality he’s just an asshole. No amount of simpering over Echo is going to make me like him.

Aside from Noah’s fear of loosing his younger brothers, everything else in Pushing the Limits feels overwrought and angst-ridden simply for drama’s sake, instead of taking the opportunity for a nuanced look at mental illness, the effects of trauma, domestic abuse and the foster system.

*Many thanks to NetGalley, HarlequinTEEN and Mira Ink for sending me a copy for review*

Book Review: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

I think this will be a short review. The truth is, I cannot think of much to say about What’s Left Of Me. It was the perfect reading choice, as at the time I didn’t want to pick up anything too taxing or read something that I would get too engrossed in. That being said, all these things also made it a rather forgettable read.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

I loved the premise. A parallel world to ours (I’m assuming), where everyone is born with two souls inhabiting one body. Over time, one of these souls becomes the dominant, while the other just fades away. But for Addie and Eva, this hasn’t happened and now they have to pretend that Eva died long ago in a world that despises and fears people like them.

I guess I felt that nothing really seemed to set Addie and Eva apart. They needed more distinct personalities and for me, none of the relationships seemed to have any real depth or emotion behind them.

Ultimately, nothing really grabbed me. Not the characters, or the situation they found themselves in. I didn’t get any sense of danger or urgency at key moments in the book that should have been filled with tension. Zhang had some interesting events going on, but I didn’t feel like anything was really pushed, like it could have been. For example, Addie and Eva are both female souls within a female body. Does it always happen like that? What happens if one of the inhabiting souls identifies differently? Has that ever happened? What about if the two souls are attracted to different genders? Perhaps these kind of questions might be touched upon in later books. Zhang does question how someone like Addie and Eva might have a relationship one day, but it only very briefly comes into conversation right at the end of the book.

What’s Left of Me is like a light, vanilla dystopian, which is fine, but it could have been far more interesting. Despite my yearning for an easy read, sometimes things need to be gritty and messy and complicated. As it stands, I’m not overly fussed about picking up the rest of the Hybrid Chronicles, I feel satisfied having read this one.

Book Review: A Witch in Love by Ruth Warburton

I was given A Witch in Love for review a long time ago, so I have to apologise to both the author and Hachette for taking so long to get around to reading this.

Anna still finds it hard to believe that Seth loves her and has vowed to suppress her powers, no matter what.

But magic – like love – is uncontrollable. It spills out with terrible consequences, and soon, Anna is being hunted.

*Some spoilers for A Witch in Winter

As the title suggests, there is a bigger focus on romance in this book, and that’s probably why I didn’t enjoy A Witch in Love quite as much as its predecessor. I had hoped the books (and the characters) would move on from Anna’s love spell but we’re left rehashing much of the same stuff and it all gets too melodramatic and angsty for me. Readers rooting for these two will love this book but I was never a fan of Seth and Anna. Seth is far too perfect and consequently dull, while Anna turns rather needy and pathetic whenever it comes to Seth. These two are just way too wrapped up in each other and I don’t feel the chemistry.

Continue reading

Book Review: Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth EulbergIt is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single girl of high standing at Longbourn Academy must be in want of a prom date.

After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be – especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London. Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk – so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

This is one of my least favourite P&P re-tellings (and I’ve read a fair few). It’s a sweet book, but one I feel better suited for junior readers looking for a quick, fluffy read, as there’s no real substance to it. Continue reading

Book Review: Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

At first glance, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale sounds like an overwhelmingly girly book, but both the title, and the UK covers (not shown here), are a bit misleading. I’m neither a twelve-year-old girl, nor a fond reader of princesses and romantic fairy tales, but I really enjoyed this book.

Scenes of girls learning how to dance, gossiping over boys and getting excited over pretty dresses are few and far between. Instead, Princess Academy focuses on themes of friendship, loyalty, family, finding your place in the world and most of all, how education can open doors, with a little old-fashioned fairy tale feel-good on the side.

Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king’s priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year’s time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king’s ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.

Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates.

Continue reading

Book Review: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Struck by Jennifer BosworthMia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

Post Apocalyptic YA certainly seems to be becoming more and more popular and Struck definitely sounded a little bit different, with a synopsis that promised a lightning-addicted protagonist and two religious cults fighting for power, following an earthquake that devastates L.A.

Continue reading

Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Publisher: Puffin

First Published: 5th May 2009

Format: Paperback

Pages: 276

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Recommended Reading Age: 14+

Rating: 4.5/10

Amazon/Goodreads

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first book in a YA series that by all accounts, seems to be well-loved and incredibly popular.

It’s your typical teenage love-triangle set against a pretty backdrop of sea, sun and sand, and not a whole lot else. With these types of books, when we all know what’s going to happen, it’s the characters and dialogue that really make the story.

It’s a pity then, that I so intensely disliked Isabel.

Continue reading