Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 360pgs

The Story

In the end, all that's left is an echo . . .

Violet kept her morbid ability to sense dead bodies a secret from everyone except her family and her childhood-best-friend-turned-boyfriend, Jay Heaton. That is until forensic psychologist Sara Priest discovered Violet's talent and invited her to use her gift to track down murderers. Now, as she works with an eclectic group of individuals - including mysterious and dangerously attractive Rafe - it's Violet's job to help those who have been murdered by bringing their killers to justice.

When Violet discovers the body of a college girl killed by "the girlfriend collector" she is determined to solve the case. But now the serial killer is on the lookout for a new "relationship" and Violet may have caught his eye . . .

The Review

I had so many high hopes for the third installment, THE LAST ECHO, of Kimberly Derting's bestselling young adult series The Body Finder. As expected the author continues to deliver a spine-tingling mystery with that same-old 'creepiness factor' that we love and adore in her writing (because they are so creepy, right?) and her books always leaves me with one eye open throughout the night, but for this time round there was just something missing in this next chapter of Violet Mathers's story and it's rather a pity too.

The main heroine, Violet, has been greatly loved by me from the first two books in the series and even today she still remains to be one of my favourite characters in the YA book genre. Being your not so average teenage girl with literal body-finding abilities and forever finding herself entangled in all sorts of mysterious and deadly cases, ones where she marginally escapes death itself, Violet in her short lifespan has experienced more than your average teenager should and I admire how she deals with every single situation that is thrown at her. That's what we love most about her character. However, while our Vi is strong, capable and determined, but much like with the storyline something has changed in Violet's character. Not in a bad way per se but enough to make me question her motives. From the previous two installments she had so much trust in others, especially with her family and friends, but I thought she trusted her new "family" of friends, her FBI gang with similar abilities as hers, a little too easily. Mostly with Rafe's character whom we met from book two.

Now I've found myself completely frustrated with this book (which was probably the central reason to why I didn't like this book as much as the others), more so when it came to the whole love triangle fiasco that Derting has etched into this story. Not only was it the direction I was hoping to avoid but it was also something that I felt - personally - didn't need to be in there in order for readers to fall even harder for this series. It just wasn't needed since we have Jay to cheer us up, the childhood best friend and now boyfriend of Violet, who is . . . honestly . . . the perfect boy through everyone's eyes and I love him to bits. He's totally in my top 5 of hot fictional boys and unlike those fierce and mysterious fantasy boys, what appeals to me most about Jay is how normal and down-to-earth he is and I want a Jay of my own! Seriously where is my own Jay been hiding? Who knows, really. But what this book lacked in so many ways was Jay himself and it was a total downer to say the least.

In the romance department I still firmly believe that Jay and Violet are made for each other - they're just SO perfect together - and he's always been there for her and her body-finder ability right from the start of things, but for once in this series I just wanted more spotlight put onto Jay's character because he clearly deserves it and he's totally capable of so much more than the author is willing to offer up for his character. Sure the character Rafe, a boy we were introduced to in the second book, Desires of the Dead, is an intriguing character all on his own and I can see what others see in him (you know with him being the mysterious dude with some hair full of secrets haha), but what I don't understand is why Violet would ever think about Rafe or look at him in a way she has always looked at Jay . . . especially when she now has the perfect Jay all to herself. Oh man, Vi needs to seriously rethink her situation because I've had it. *shakes head* You have Jay Vi . . . JAY! YOU DON'T NEED RAFE . . . like . . . EVER!

Overall, THE LAST ECHO was a disappointing third installment (it just didn't go the way I hoped it would) but the whole 'Girlfriend Collector' mystery was equally as enthralling as the other two installments beforehand and it reminded me so much of the Kiss the Girls movie which I loved. So, if you're already a fan of this series and of this author, then you're still going to love this new book no matter the frustrations of its love triangles and teenage angst. It's a killer for sure!

The Rating
3 1/2 / 5 stars

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Serial Hottie by Kelly Oram

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Bluefields

Pages: 397pgs

The Story

Ellie's sweet sixteen is a summer of firsts.

First car. First kiss. First boyfriend. First serial-killing stalker?

Hockey-obsessed tomboy Eleanor Westley has never been the object of a guy's affection before. So when the hottest boy she's ever seen moves in across the street and starts treating her like she's the center of his universe, naturally she's going to be a little skeptical. But everything starts to make sense when girls who look just like Ellie start dying all around the city. Obviously the new guy is the killer, and of course he only likes her because he wants to slice her into tiny pieces. Right?

The more Ellie gets to know Seth the more she's convinced he's a psychopathic killer. The problem is he's the sweetest psychopathic killer she's ever met. Not to mention he's brutally hot. No matter how hard she tries, she can't help but fall for him. Will Ellie find true love, or will her summer of firsts turn out to be a summer of lasts?

The Review

A big thanks to the author for providing me a review copy of the book!

This is the first book I've read of Kelly Oram's and it most certainly won't be my last. Now I really enjoyed the concept of this book, I really did. The reason why I wanted to read this book so badly was because I love anything that has something to do with serial killers and I've always loved these certain books where the killer is closer than you think or rather you fall in love with the killer and so on. It just has this exciting element about it like the TV show Dexter does. And, on the plus side, what made me enjoy SERIAL HOTTIE even more than I thought I would was that it also had this Nancy Drew vibe to it with a slight hint of your classic horror movie of predictability and boy did I love it!

SERIAL HOTTIE is a fluffy but a really intense read for the most part, and what did it for me was the characters alone - even when they frustrated me so many times you lost count and I often was yelling at them saying, "Why did you just do that?!". But for our main character, Ellie, she's a total tomboy compared to her sister, Angela, who is the complete opposite. Ellie is someone who plays hockey, hates wearing girly clothes (which I can totally understand), and let's just say she's not the kind of girl who attracts your average guy because she is mostly 'just friends' with them instead. Honestly . . . Ellie was the easiest person to connect with in the book because for most of my childhood I was your typical tomboy and wanting to do things boys were doing at a younger age, so I loved that part about her. Even her sister, Angela, was a real hoot to have in a book such as this one and boy thank god for her humor - not to mention her brains - when it came to the new boy in town, Seth, whom is the kind of boy you're going to either love or love to hate, or just plainly hate, hate, hate.

Apart from the girls, Seth was the only captivating boy character in the book and never have I been so conflicted with a male character before. It's a first for me. Seth is someone you want to love and trust, but then once he goes all weird on Ellie's character, especially when a killer is supposedly on the loose and he starts to get way too involved, you just didn't want to trust him anymore. But here's the thing about his character: He has serial killer tendencies - oh my god, I'm not kidding here. Ellie suspects he is the local serial killer and it's no wonder why her thoughts had always led back to him. After all, Seth is really creepy. Really, really creepy. He was just always there, he was saying things killers would say to their victims prior to the killings (it's called stalking your prey), then he was all possessive-like and controlling over Ellie, and oh yeah, Seth does have a thing for knives (who doesn't?) and a bad temper which explodes at the worst possible times too. Call him whatever you like, but I might not have loved him nor swoon for him, but I did kind of like him. I shouldn't but I did and the fun part . . . ? Honestly I have no idea why I like him so much because really . . . this boy right here has no business dating girls because he's not of the stable kind. Still . . . I liked him. So if you can't love a male character for confusing you on so many levels and make you love to hate him, then I don't know what else you could possibly want from a young adult book!

Overall, SERIAL HOTTIE was such a fun, quick read and if you love a book with crossovers between Nancy Drew, Dexter, Veronica Mars, and a little bit of the horror/thriller film elements, then I would highly recommend this book to you! It's fun . . . a little creepy perhaps but fun.

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Friday, October 26, 2012

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd

Pages: 496pgs

The Story

Young, beautiful and deadly. Trained as an assassin by the god of Death, Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, where she finds herself under prepared - not only for the games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death's vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

The Review

GRAVE MERCY was a total win for me right from the very beginning. With such a kick-ass and promising premise, all it really needed was a great and a badassery, variety kind of protagonist and the author, in this case, delivered in every way imaginable, even to my own surprise. I've been waiting for a book like this one for quite some time now in the YA genre and it definitely came at the right time too because I loved it to pieces from the heroine all the way down to its dark, itty gritty side of the 15th century!

The story's main heroine, Ismae, was one of my favourite characters by far this year. With very little effort on the author's part, I was instantly drawn to this deadly, stubborn, strong-willed young woman and I loved every single thing about her. Ismae may have had an awful upbringing and you hated her family for treating her the way they did, but as Ismae is shipped off to a covenant and introduced to the world of assassins, and soon figuring out what kills her makes her stronger to become the person she was always meant to be . . . she became everything that I love in my heroines: A a fiery passion to survive. The thing that separates her from every other heroine I know of today is that she never questions her loyalties and never allows anyone to make her feel weak - not even for a second - she was just being Ismae and let me tell you this Ismae will kick your ass any day if you get in her way!

As far as romances go in YA historical books, this romance was beyond AWESOME and one of the best romances I've read yet this year! I wholeheartedly adored Isame's love interest, Duval, not because he was mysterious and handsome from head to toe (okay, maybe it was part of it), but rather I loved his relationship with Ismae because it was an uneasy alliance between them and it was all about their mission rather than it being about love, love, love. At least at first, which is why I loved these two main characters so, so much. They just clicked together, you know? On a whole other level. Passion and all. With his desire to protect his charge, with his half-sister being the Duchess and with him having this unseemly desire to protect Ismae when his heart is always telling him otherwise, I'm sure many readers will fall for this guy and melt your insides. He sure had that affect on me.

But when you overlook the characters, what I truly loved the most was the historical aspect of the book and the detail it offered to me. Whether you're a fan of history or not, I thought Robin LaFevers painted the perfect picture of the 15th century of Brittany - the whole feel I got from the book gave me chills as if I was right there with the characters. The writing, the attention to details, the clothing people wore and even the mannerisms, and the way people spoke to each other, just felt so real to me in this past setting and it was so easy for me to visualize what people were like back then so . . . I just loved it! But of course, it certainly helps me already being a fan of this certain period so kudos to the author for writing such a book for me to enjoy!

Overall, with a book containing a strong-willed heroine, secret societies, an in-depth storyline and a well developed young romance, along with some classic action and magic and all sorts of political drama that sets things on very high stakes, GRAVE MERCY will definitely appeal to historical readers and even readers of the likes of A Game of Thrones, Shadow and Bone and Graceling! Trust me here: You DON'T want to miss out on this book!

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Q&A with Elementals author Brigid Kemmerer

I am so excited to have Brigid Kemmerer joining us today! Like with so many other fans around the world, I too had absolutely LOVED the author's debut novel, Storm, and now her much anticipated sequel, SPARK, being released earlier this month, the Merrick brothers - and in particular the smexy-hottie Gabriel who is now our main hero in this second installment of the Elemental series - are once again bringing sexy back and not to mention much more trouble along with them as well!

So please feel free to check out my interview with the author herself below. I'm sure you will love her answers as much as I do!
Q: You might get this question a lot, but what inspired you to write about the Merrick brothers with very different paranormal powers? How did you manage to come up with such a cool idea?

The first novel I wrote in high school was about four vampire brothers, named Michael, Nicholas, Gabriel, and Christopher. It was a silly story, but I still have most of it on paper. In my twenties, when I really began to take writing seriously, I wrote a few books but was unable to find a literary agent or a publisher. I couldn't get those four brothers out of my head – but I didn't want to do vampires again. I started tossing around ideas that would work with the number four. Four horsemen of the apocalypse. Four leaf clovers. Four, four, four. The four elements of earth, air, fire, and water seemed to work best—and I had a lot of ideas how I could make it fun. Who wouldn't want to be able to control the elements?

Q: In your debut novel, Storm, and in your newly released sequel, Spark, I see that one of your most prominent themes is bullying. Each of your characters - Becca, Quinn, Layne, Simon and even the Merrick brothers themselves - have experienced it in many forms. What made you explore this major theme? Have you put your own high school experiences into the novel or perhaps someone else's?

It’s funny – I didn't really set out to write a novel about bullying. But when I was young, I changed schools every year, so I was constantly the new kid. I was chubby and brainy and bookish, and that doesn't exactly lend itself to being instantly popular. School is all about learning interpersonal dynamics—basically, how to relate to each other. While not everyone is bullied, everyone can relate to the struggle for figuring out who you are and where you fit on the social ladder. Once I started exploring that theme, it kind of took over. 

Q: In Spark, I really enjoyed getting to know Gabriel and Layne and watching these two grow in their relationship. What was your thought process on how this new romance would develop? How did you go about constructing these equally matched and headstrong characters?

Gabriel and Layne were so much fun to write! I knew Gabriel needed a strong girl to match his personality, and I needed to make her complex, because Gabriel himself is so complex. I just kept throwing challenges at them until I thought they might break, because then they’d have the opportunity to save each other.

Q: Do you by any chance plan to write more than 3 books in the Elementals world? Or are you planning to write something outside the paranormal genre?

I definitely would like to have the opportunity to write more Elemental books! I’m working on a proposal for more right now. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Q: If you have any, what music inspirations did you have for you novel/s or in particular your characters, Gabriel and Layne?

There’s a playlist in the back of Spark, but one song that always gets me thinking about the series is Something Beautiful by NeedToBreathe. It’s the perfect theme song for the Elemental Series. 

Q: If you were one of your leading ladies, which Merrick brother would you choose and why?

Oh, wow! They’re all so much fun. When I was in high school, I probably would have gone for Gabriel, but now, I’d definitely be a Michael girl.

Q: Lastly, what can your readers expect from your third installment, Spirit? Any more hottie scenes we should be excited for?

Well, Spirit hasn't gone through my editor yet, so this answer may change. Spirit is by far the most action packed book I've written yet, and it’s full of sexy-times  too. Hunter meets Kate, another Guide, and let’s just say that she’s definitely a challenge for him to keep up with.

A big thanks to Brigid for answering my questions and to the amazing publicist, Lara from Allen & Unwin, for including me on this super fun blog tour!

Don't forget to check out more posts from amazing bloggers

on the rest of the Australian Spark Blog Tour Schedule!

24th September - Eleusinian Mysteries

1st October - Speculating on SpecFic

8th October - Novels on the Run

29th October - Badass Bookie


Brigid Kemmerer finds the time to write somewhere between caring for her family and working at her day job, but sometimes she ends up mothering her coworkers and managing her family. Storm: The Elemental Series is her first novel.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

One Moment by Kristina McBride

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: EgmontUSA

Pages: 272pgs

The Story

This was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie's life. Now it's the one she'd do anything to forget.

Maggie Reynolds remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after blowout party the night before. She remembers climbing the trail hand in hand with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can't she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below - dead?

As Maggie's memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where diid he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?

The latest novel from the author of The Tension of Opposites, One Moment is a mysterious, searing look at how an instant can change everything you believe about the world around you.

The Review

A big thanks to the publisher on netGalley for accepting my request in reading this book early!

This is the first book I've read of Kristina McBride's and it certainly won't be the last that I'll read of hers because her second book, ONE MOMENT, was such a fantastic YA contemporary read, one that deals with unexpected loss, terrible grief, a lot of trust issues, and a whole lot of complications involving friends and family along the journey.

Maggie Reynolds has been dating her boyfriend for almost two years straight and she's deeply in love with him. He's the perfect boyfriend after all. Then everything changes in a split second when she and Joey are on the edge of a cliff and they're about to plunge down into the dark waters below. But just when they're about to jump, Maggie soon forgets everything and with this 'everything' she is told later on that her boyfriend is dead. Below the cliff. Dead in the dark waters. How can she NOT remember his death? As she soon comes to terms with her boyfriend's death, Maggie will need to uncover what exactly happened on that unfortunate night and find out why her friends are acting so strange and why everyone - including herself - seems to think that Joey had left behind a whole lot of secrets . . . secrets that could change Maggie and the world she knows forever.

The thing I loved most about ONE MOMENT was how it was written - switching back and forth between the past and present. It not only gave me a clearer picture about what was going on and helped me out by putting together the tiny little pieces of clues that were scattered throughout the book, but it also gave me a chance to get to know Maggie's boyfriend, Joey, whom dies very early on in the book, so I'm glad to have a chance to get to know him as he's the center part of this book and of Maggie's grief that we read about. I also loved how flowing the words were of the storyline and I felt nothing was ever rushed, even for a much shorter contemporary book. It was great and completely engrossing from page one!

As for the characters, every single one of them had their own part to play. While I didn't necessarily like Maggie's girl friends (Shannon in particular), but out of all of the characters I wholeheartedly loved and adored Maggie, the main protagonist, and her friend Adam the most. Their relationship was kind of a sacred thing and despite seeing - well guessing - something was going on between them . . . I still just loved their interactions with one another. They were so genuine and so sweet. While everyone else is grieving over the loss of Joey, Maggie's now ex-boyfriend, there's just these intense feelings flying about between Mags and Adam, and as others may not see it, they felt like they were the only two people whom understood one another so that was a nice element to add to the storyline of grief and loss. But as for Adam . . . boy I loved that guy and I so wanted more from him! He was . . . so cute.

Overall, Kristina McBride's ONE MOMENT was a little heart-breaker of a book and it offered up all sorts of things I love in my young adult contemporary books, and by the time I reached the end of the book, I had this little smile plastered onto my face. A real happy one. So I can't wait to read more from this author, which I'm sure will be even more great things!

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Pages: 288pgs

The Story

Elise is a normal seventeen-year-old girl until the day she wakes up in a desert park, with no idea who she is.

After that episode, her life takes a bizarre turn. She's experiencing unexpected flashes of insight into people's lives - people she's never met before. Strangers frighten her with warnings about the approaching Shadows. And although Elise has never had a boyfriend, she suddenly finds herself torn between two handsome but very different young men: Abe, the charming bad boy whose effect on her both seduces and frightens her, and the mysterious Harlin, who's new to town but with whom Elise feels an urgent, elemental connection - almost as if they are soul mates.

Now Elise begins to question everything about her life. Why do these guys both want her so desperately? What are the Shadows? Why does the name Charlotte inspire a terrifying familiarity? And who is Elise, really?

The Review

In Suzanne Young's next book, A WANT SO WICKED, the second installment of the A Need So Beautiful series, seventeen-year-old Elise is your average teenage girl: She's a pastor's good-girl of a daughter, she has a great relationship with her father and sister whom care about her very dearly, and she seems to have her life finally on track - just as it should be. Only problem is, when she looks in the mirror she can sometimes see someone else looking back at her. Someone rather too familiar to her. But when visions - ones that seem almost too-real to imagine - start to plague her mind and when she meets a stranger named Harlin and begins to form a relationship with the bad boy named Abe, everything is about to change in Elise's life and as her memories get clearer and clearer each day . . . Elise cannot help but think . . . what if she's someone else . . . from another life?

A Need So Beautiful was one of my favourite books from 2011 as it was so epic and heart-aching both at the same time. So, in saying that, I had very, very high expectations for this upcoming sequel and when I finished it . . . it sure didn't disappoint me. That is for certain. While I did prefer the first book to this one because it was what made me fall in love with this series in the first place, but the best of all best things I can honestly say about A WANT SO WICKED was that it had such a different feel in comparison to the first installment, the way it was much more darker, complicated and just had this edgy rawness to it in which I couldn't stop praising about, so well done Suzanne Young on that part!

When it comes to our main heroine, Elise (who is obviously our Charlotte from the first book, only this time round she's in a different human body and she can't exactly remember her past) is not like Charlotte at all, though in some respects she is also like her as well if you get my meaning. She's just . . . someone else for the most part of this book. Now much like Charlotte's personality, Elise is a very smart, brave, funny, and a very kind-hearted sort of girl who has this inexplicable connection with Harlin (a boy she can't help but feel attracted to), which only goes to prove that there's something very strange going on with her right now and this 'other girl' she believes used to be her. Straightaway Elise's character was so easy to connect with and I couldn't help but cheer for her to get that happy ending that she clearly deserves. She was naive at times (that's for sure) but she was so . . . normal and down-to-earth and I liked that.

Then of course there's the boys: Harlin and Abe, the two love interests for Elise. One bad and one possibly good-and-bad or rather both. Harlin, for starters, was introduced to us in the first book as Charlotte's dedicated boyfriend (so complicated, right?) and I still couldn't believe he didn't know about Elise (rather who she is) and her so-called 'visions' and 'feelings' that were somehow connected to his Charlotte. It frustrated me so much to a point of madness and yet I was still so head-over-heels with Harlin after reading this book. He is so perfect people! Throughout the time lost between him and his beloved Charlotte, I think Harlin really came into his own and matured along the way in  A WANT SO WICKED and just when things are revealed in the end, he's straight back to being the Harlin we all used to love and adore, and I just swooned, swooned, swooned again over him. Hey, I couldn't help it! With Abe on the other hand, the new potential love interest for Elise/Charlotte, I wouldn't exactly call him a love interest per se. He was more . . . a possibility for Elise's character. Another path she could and may choose to take. Now for me Abe was a really tricky character to like because you loved him one moment and then hated him the next. But right off the bat, I knew he was going to be trouble and - like always - I was right . . . but he definitely had his moments of making situations really interesting . . . so I won't say with what exactly but he was interesting to get to know. But for the meantime, I shall swoon over Harlin's hotness. Dude, I love you to pieces!

Overall, as a far as endings go, I believe A WANT SO WICKED ended with a total bang for its readers and I loved it just as much as the first book despite some minor things that made me frustrated. While this sequel finished in a way that was both satisfying and utterly bittersweet, it still left room for a possibility of another sequel to be written so whether Suzanne Young decides to write another book or not for this series, A WANT SO WICKED remains to be a fantastic finish to the Charlotte/Elise story and everyone must go read it ASAP to get a taste of the darker side. It's totally worth it!

The Rating
4 1/2 / 5 stars

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Evolution of Mara Dyer Trailer

Check out EW's article featuring the exclusive

The Evolution of Mara Dyer book trailer!


Tell me what you think about it?

Do you love it or hate it?

I, on the other hand, thought the book trailer was wonderfully put together. While I was hoping for something really scary but I think the makers of the trailer did a great job in capturing the essence of Mara Dyer: the haunting-but-sometimes-sweet side, the sexy undertones and basically everything else that we loved from the previous installment . . . I'm talking about some Mara and Noah lovin'! Boy this trailer has really got me excited for this sequel and I can't wait to find out what happens to our Mara Dyer, poor girl. So if you haven't already read Michelle Hodkin's first book, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, then you're seriously missing out on a fantastic series! Any other thoughts? Well . . . hello NOAH SHAW (the actor was not how I saw my Noah but still . . .).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Fame Game by Lauren Conrad

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 313pgs

The Story

In Hollywood, fame can be found on every corner and behind any door. You just have to know where to look for it. Nineteen-year-old Madison Parker made a name for herself as best frenemy of nice-girl-next-door Jane Roberts on the hot reality show L.A. Candy. Now Madison's ready for her turn in the spotlight and she'll stop at nothing to get it. Sure, she's the star of the new show, but with backstabbing friends and suspicious family members trying to bring her down, Madison has her work cut out for her. Plus, there's a new nice girl in "reality" town - aspiring actress Carmen Price, the daughter of Hollywood royalty - and she's a lot more experienced at playing the fame game . . . When the camera's start rolling, whose star will shine brighter?

Filled with characters both familiar and new, Lauren Conrad's series about the highs and lows of being famous delivers Hollywood gossip and drama at every turn.

The Review

THE FAME GAME is a spin-off series of reality-slash-fashionista-star Lauren Conrad whose debut book series was the L.A. Candy series. Now I haven't read her previous books in a long while now - seems like forever ago since I actually picked up those books and read them - but I was still pretty excited to know that Conrad was writing a spin-off series of L.A. Candy focusing on the bitchy and enemy character Madison whom I was a huge fan of in the other series. However, while I may have liked L.A. Candy, that still didn't mean I was going to love this series as well. So sadly and as much as it pains me to say this, but I was really disappointed in this first installment of this author's new series.

For this new book of Conrad's, the plot alone was pretty much non-existent for me and honestly I couldn't exactly tell you what the storyline was actually about. To get the gist of it, mostly the story is told through several point of views between girl characters seeking fame and having their own career aspirations and other celebrity-like things, and while it's interesting getting those different kinds of perspectives and learning about some of the old and new characters, but really all I wanted was Madison's point-of-view which was all that really mattered to me when I first began reading this book.

In regards to the characters and what they had to offer, I liked them to a certain extent, especially when we slowly get to know each of them individually and what they want from fame in general, but all in all it just wasn't enough for me to really like them, you know? But with that being said, I still managed to love the whole love and hate relationship both with this book and its characters. I mean considering what every character is currently going through in their personal lives and in the lives lived through the public eye, I think the whole point about this book was that you were supposed to have this love and hate thing with them, and since I've watched Lauren Conrad's The Hills TV show previously and seeing the love and hate thing develop between myself and real life people in their own so-called "realities" in the show, I can definitely see the appeal of this love/hate relationship coming across in these books and in their readers. For sure I wasn't a huge fan of the other main characters introduced in THE FAME GAME nor did they seem like my kind of people to aspire to, but I loved Madison most of all and unlike her character seen in the L.A. Candy series, I found that in this book her character was much more fleshed out and developed nicely which was a great change to witness. However when it comes down to it, there was still nothing strong coming out from this book. Not the storyline. Not the characters. But it was still . . . a whole lot of fun to read.

Overall, THE FAME GAME might not be everyone's cup of tea but if you have that secret pleasure of reality TV shows and seeing people's true colours come out or if you were a fan of Conrad's first series L.A. Candy series then I would definitely recommend this series to you! It might be written by a celebrity of a famous reality TV show but she's actually not a bad writer at all. She has this cool edge in her books and knows what happens when fame really takes over your life and everything in it!

The Rating
3/5 stars

Monday, October 15, 2012

Balthazar by Claudia Gray

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 374pgs

The Story

Haunted by memories from his first days as a vampire, Balthazar has spent hundreds of years alone - without allies, without love. When he emerges from his isolation to help Skye Tierney, a human girl who once attended Evernight Academy, Balthazar has no idea how dangerous it will be. Skye's psychic powers have caught the attention of Redgrave, the cruel master vampire responsible for murdering Balthazar and his family four centuries ago. Having learned of Skye's powers and the remarkable effect her blood has on vampires, he plans to use her for his own evil purposes. As they stand together to fight the evil vampire, Balthazar realizes his lonely world could finally be changed by Skye . . . just as Redgrave realizes that he can destroy Balthazar once and for all by taking her for his own.

In a story filled with forbidden love and dark suspense, one of the most beloved characters in Claudia Gray's New York Times bestselling Evernight series will captivate readers with his battle to overcome his past and follow his heart.

The Review

Like what most readers have done by now, I too have read the author's entire Evernight YA series and while it wasn't a particularly favourite series of mine nor memorable one at that, but I was still very pleased to know there would a companion book taking place after the events of the series and one that would feature my only favourite Evernight character, Balthazar, whom was just as dreamy and mysteriously perfect as I remembered him. Only he was so much more than I first thought he would be when it comes to this book alone.

To be honest with you all here, I firmly believe that Claudia Gray's new spin-off book BALTHAZAR will definitely NOT disappoint any Balthazar fans out there. It certainly didn't disappoint me. At first I was a little bit nervous when I came into this book since I wasn't an Evernight fan from the beginning and I was really wary about our Balty having a new love interest in the works, that being with the newly introduced character Skye Tierney, whom I didn't care for from the previous series. But once we dived into the many pasts of Balthazar and actually start to learn about the kind of person he has now become and even navigating through his new adventures on the horizon - not to mention his new relationship struggles - I'm actually glad that I still decided to read this book anyway despite my worries because I enjoyed it far more than any Evernight books and it's put my faith back into the author as well.

Regarding the characters I thought Balthazar's character was just as brilliant as he was before in the Evernight series and his character has clearly developed far more in his own book - one with his name as the same title - which he clearly deserves after all he's done and been through in the past. Now like I mentioned before, Balty is one of my favourite characters and finally he gets the spotlight for a change and about time too! From what we've seen in the previous Evernight series, Balty remains to be one of the kindest, sweetest, and one of the most loyal characters there is, not to mention he totally kicks vampire butt when he wants too, adding this beautiful human quality to his character core which only increases my love for him and enabling me to connect with him instantly. He can do no wrong through my eyes . . . he honestly can't . . . really!

The only real complaint I have when it comes to this book was Skye, one of the main characters you're introduced to and the girl who soon becomes Balthazar's love interest (so to speak). I don't remember too much of her character from the Evernight series however I do remember her in some instances and let's just say she wasn't exactly a favourite of mine nor does she remains so in this book. I mean with so much happening in Skye's life that 'sometimes' gives the book the oomph that it needs but for whatever reason I just couldn't connect with her in the way I did with Balthazar. I tried to honestly but there wasn't anything great or interesting about and I never cared for her, you know? So while I can't giveaway any sort of spoilers for you today but if I had to mention anything good about Skye it would be that she was decent character to have and one who made our Balty come alive, bringing out the goodness in him, so in that respect of Skye's character I liked her for that but it still doesn't mean I actually liked, liked her which is sad but hey . . . what can you do?

Overall, BALTHAZAR is filled with many plot points, enjoyable character developments, plenty of storyline twists and turns that catch you off guard, and much more action and drama than one would expect from such a book. So if you loved the Evernight series, then you're going to love this without a doubt and probably much more which really surprised me too!

The Rating
4/5 stars

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Hyperion Books

Pages: 517pgs

The Story

Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana'Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he's concerned, the princess's family killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it - he's saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive - and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

The Review

Honestly where do I start with this book review? Okay so I'm going to admit here I'm a huge fangal when it comes to the Seven Realm series and it's by far one of my favourite fantasy series EVER! It might have actually beaten my love for the Game of Thrones series which only goes to show what a brilliant author Cinda Williams Chima actually is! I mean seriously, with each and every installment getting better and better as the series goes along, and with so much story progression happening not to mention fantastic character development waiting in tow, what more could you possibly want from a book series such as this one? Right . . . nothing more because this series is beyond awesomeness . . . it's absolute perfection.

THE GRAY WOLF THRONE, the third installment of the Seven Realm series, continues the stories of daring wizards, political intrigue, family feuds, forbidden romances and strong male heroes and their unpredictable female heroine leads. With Princess Raisa ana'Marianna forced to flee her home in the Fells in order to escape a forced marriage by none other than a son from the Bayar wizard bloodline, from ultimate betrayals to unforeseeable trickery, Raisa has managed to survive as long as possible along with Amon, her friend and main protector. But just when she finds herself safe in Oden's Ford, flaunting and hiding behind the facade of a servant girl and tutor named Rebecca Morley, she's soon discovered by the Bayar's and makes a deadly bargain of continuing - as planned - to marry Micah Bayar (the boy she fled from the Fells) to keep herself and many others safe from harm. So as she travels with Micah, there is a sudden attack and it leaves Raisa to make her quick escape only to be left fatally wounded in the end. But with another wizard and a former friend of 'Rebecca Morley', Han "Cuffs" Allister, someone who is hot on Raisa's trail (only he doesn't know of her real identity) and whom is eager to find her, when he eventually finds Raisa/Rebecca he not only saves her life using magic and nearly killing himself in the process, but he discovers who Raisa/Rebecca actually is which leaves him feeling utterly betrayed and angry . . . even though he can't help but stay to protect Raisa - whether she's a princess or not.

Out of all the installments I've read, THE GRAY WOLF THRONE is by far my favourite book in the entire series. At least right now, considering we have one more book to go! Raising the stakes higher then ever before, we not only have more scenes shared between Han and Raisa (I know finally!) but we also have far more action scenes than we've seen previously in the books, which only causes me to jump up and down in excitement because it was ALL so AWESOME from beginning to end! So freaking  awesome indeed. I mean there's so much love I have for Chima's beautiful writing and the world she has somehow created effortlessly . . . I'm beyond speechless right now with just how magnificent this book series really is! Like I said before: There's so much love here between me and this book!

But it's not only the storyline that keeps getting better and better, it's also the characters too. Oh boy oh boy, how I love these characters as well! With readers suggesting they like Han more than Raisa or liking Raisa more than Han, it's fair to say I adore them both equally as our main characters for many reasons. The thing is, they're both very different characters - personality-wise at least - to one another and whether you love or hate them, or whether you agree or come to disagree with their gut instincts and some actions in decision-making, they are just two very complexed characters that bring many sides to the story and I'm proud of the author herself in the way she continues to make them grow and be at their best and at their worse as well, which increases my love for them in every step of their journey.

For Raisa in particular, she's not exactly a favorable character from what I've read in past reviews, but to me I adore her completely. She's not perfect but who can blame her? After all, she's still a young girl trying to figure out her life and her future, in which this book she finally comes to grips with so I'm glad for that. Faced with many impossible routes, in terms of ruling as a future queen and loving those she cannot love as it's forbidden (my poor Raisa and Amon - how I love those two together), Raisa has such a strong role to play and I think in this book she has grown up and it's amazing seeing a character I've loved for a short while become someone so fierce and so powerful at the same time too. For the most part I just love her more for her own strengths and her courage.

As for Han Allister, he's a character that is a force to be reckoned with and he's one main character whom continues to blow me away in every book! Much like in Raisa's situation, Han has many difficult choices to make but he remains strong throughout the entire book, even when he's always feeling angry and betrayed by Raisa's dark 'hidden identity  secret. But here's the thing I love most about our dear "Cuffs": He maybe tough on the inside and out, but he's always playing everything as a game, one where each and every step he makes . . . he's always watching what's going on around him and he's always on the lookout to who maybe watching. But that's not all I love about him. I love how he's with Raisa. He has always knew her as Rebecca Morley - someone he could possibly share a life with - but since she's a princess and her secret is out now . . . he's still trying to keep his distance. But when they're together, no matter the awkwardness and betrayal lying between them, there's this spark that no one can deny between them and boy . . . my heart is swooning right now. Gah! They're just so cute together and yet so wrong for each other which only makes them even more perfect for one another if you get my meaning. Yes, I heart them so much if you can't tell already!

Overall, THE GRAY WOLF THRONE was one of the most critical points within the series and it's by far the perfect book to help me gear up in excitement and utter despair for the final book coming out this month, The Crimson Crown! With many struggles of political power, assassination attempts on princesses and forbidden love to tear your own heart apart, this book sets up a wonderful fantasy series and it won't be the last I read of Chima's . . . she is such a sublime author who needs more praises than others are willing to give her! Just love her writing so, so much!

The Rating

5/5 stars

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 444pgs

The Story

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom's drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over thier heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone's been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he's offered the incredible - a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom's instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he'll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he'll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything Tom's always wanted - friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters - but what will it cost him?

Gripping and provocative, S.J. Kincaid's futuristic thrill ride of a debut crackles with memorable characters, tremendous wit, and a vision of the future that asks startling, timely questions about the melding of humanity and technology.

The Review

As one of the most anticipated titles of 2012, INSIGNIA was a young adult book I just knew I had to read! For one, I'm an avid gamer so I could definitely see some of myself in the main character as we share the same common interest - even before reading the book - and secondly, I'm a big fan of the sci-fi genre where others are not so much, which only increased my excitement and anticipation for this book alone. However, with that being said and despite the high praises and all the love I thought I would have by the time I finished this book, I, unfortunately, just couldn't get into this book. Sad but true and I hate myself for it.

The beginning of this book was . . . fantastic! I was really getting into it at first, but then several problems began to occur throughout the book. I mean, if I had to be really specific here, the main problems for me were most likely the book's pacing which is very important to me for the most part and all of the details the author covered in general in the book which didn't end so well for me. Obviously. Now concerning the pacing of the book, honestly . . . it had its up and downs. At times with certain scenes they would spread like wildefire and the action sequences just hit you like action should have hit me, you know? But then I found the majority of the pacing was far too slow for my taste and too . . . I hate to say it . . . boring.

Quite often in the book I found myself drifting off instead of eagerly turning those pages and that happened all the time for me, so as you can imagine I was pretty disappointed when it came to that part. The same goes with the book's details - both the big and the small. Like with many other sci-fi books I've read, I do love myself some government stuff and their super secrets of war involving teenagers trying to save the world and all that epic stuff but for this book in particular I felt there was just too much to take in . . . too much technical stuff that I was really, really wanted to get lost in. But when it comes down to it I do applaud the author for her details and I can see she did a lot of research, and while many readers - despite what I thought of it - just LOVED those details but for me it didn't win me over in the end. My mind was blown . . . just too much blown. *bows head in shame*

With the main character in INSIGNIA, Tom Raines was a great protagonist and he really up stepped up his game but he was the kind of character you'd eventually grew to love in time (maybe because he was 14-years-old and I don't usually read books with young protag's). But as his character slowly develops and he becomes someone else, a better Tom, in some way he actually reminded me a bit of Harry Potter, you know, a loner boy introduced to a whole new world and gaining friends in the most unexpected places, which some other reviewers also said about him, so in that case I was certainly surprised by that factor. And as for the supporting cast, they were quite entertaining, though some were more lovable than others. Of course I didn't love all of the supporting characters but the true highlight would have to be the character, Wyatt, a girl with so little social skills and yet had the knack for advanced programming and being a total genius so I just LOVED her to bits. Probably more so than the main character, I must confess.

Overall, INSIGNIA has everything going for it for the first book in a trilogy! Even with a slowly-paced plot and some technical stuff I didn't completely understand, but I still enjoyed it and I hope many other readers who aren't so big sci-fan fans (like myself) really give this book a go because judging by the high star ratings . . . many readers LOVED this book and be rest assured you will too!

The Rating
3/5 stars

Monday, October 8, 2012

Black Heart by Holly Black

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

Pages: 296pgs

The Story

Cassel Sharpe know he's been used as an assassin, but he's trying to put all that behind him. He's trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He's trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he's trying to convince himself that working for Feds is smart, even though he's been raised to believe the government is the enemy.

But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what's right and what's wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what's a con and what's truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet - this time on love.

The Review

Prepare yourself ladies because our charming, incredibly witty, and conning anti-hero, Cassel Sharpe, is finally back to swoon us for the finale of the Curse Workers series where all of the stakes are much higher than ever before - not only for himself, but for his family and most especially for his friends too.

Right from the very beginning I have adored this series and honestly why does it all have to come to an end? Sadly for readers like me, feeling the exact same feelings as I am right now, unfortunately it has ended but I don't regret reading this series. Not one bit. Over the last year or so, Holly Black has become one of those rare writers where you would read anything written by her even though she offers up so many difficult situations for our favourite characters but she's a great writer and I had a lot of trust in her especially when it came to ending this favourite series of mine. All round this book was fantastic, though it wasn't my favourite installment but it was great regardless. And ending-wise, sure everything is not exactly tied up nicely in a cute little bow and some characters doesn't exactly drive into the sunset with not a care in the world, but it was a satisfying conclusion that I'm sure will please many of its readers.

Now onto the characters . . . Throughout the previous two books in the series, White Cat and Red Glove, Cassel Sharpe has gone through many stages of development as a main character and has grown into a fine young man if I do say so myself. Before we really got to know the inner him and seeing what a good person he really is, cheating, lying, conning and stealing became second nature to Cassel's character arc and he was the type of character you shouldn't love or rather someone you should love to hate, but in this final book, BLACK HEART, he sort of became the better man and was doing his best in getting past those mistakes that he has made previously which I really admired about him. However, no matter how hard he tries to wash his hands clean from all the lies and crimes he has committed, Cassel soon ends up back to his original roots and instincts that we know and love him for. And trust me you guys . . . we love him for being the conning man that he is with not a black heart but with a heart full of gold. I just adore him to the core and honestly there's no other words to describe how I feel about him. Again, I adore him!

The only character I truly didn't like in this entire series was Cassel's crush and only love interest, Lila, whom I couldn't connect with nor could I love her like many other readers do. It's not like Cassel should be up on a pestal nor be praised for his troubling lifestyle and past mistakes, but for me Lila wasn't a likable person at all. Sure, she was the daughter of a big crime boss and had a lot to live up to in being the heir of upcoming crime, but there's just this quality about her . . . this core of her character where I had often found myself questioning her actual feelings for Cassel. I get that she liked him and I get why she hates him after all he's done to her (he did turn her into a cat after all), but I don't feel like she's worthy of Cassel's affection and adoration. Sure straight off neither of the characters are perfect, but I still care a lot about Cassel - almost like a real person - and I think he deserves someone who could treat him right and that's not Lila I'm afraid. She's incredibly multipulative (part of the reason why I don't like her) and I don't know . . . after all this time of knowing Cassel I don't understand why NOW she expresses her feelings for him. Yeah . . . I still don't like her character but I guess when it comes down to it, whether or not her and Cassel get together in the end (I won't spoil it for you guys), I'm still very happy for the both of them and wherever their path leads may lead to . . . I say good for them.

Overall, BLACK HEART hooked me from the get go and there's so much there to keep you invested in the storyline from the complicated romances to the family bloodlines that run thick in crime, magic, and danger. If you haven't picked up this series yet, then I would highly recommend to do so because it's both for guy and girl readers . . . not to mention brilliant!

The Rating
4/5 stars

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Destined by Aprilynne Pike

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 320pgs

The Story

Tamani looked at her gravely, and reached up to tuck her hair behind her ear.

He hesitated for an instant, then his hands found the sides of her face, pulling her to him. He didn't kiss her, just held her face close to his, their foreheads resting together, their noses almost touching.

She hated how much it felt like good-bye.

Laurel now knows the truth: Yuki is a rare Winter faerie, the most powerful - and deadly - of all, and Klea plans to use her to help conquer and destroy Avalon. But Klea's reach extends far beyond one wild Winter faerie. With Tamani, David, and Chelsea by her side, Laurel prepares to face what may be Avalon's final days, in the stunning conclusion to the Wings series.

The Review

A big thanks to HarperCollins Australia for sending me a review copy of this book!

We've been on quite a journey with Aprilynne Pike's Wings series and I've always had a soft spot for it since the first book came out a few years ago. While I will admit this YA faerie series wasn't a huge favourite of mine nor did the last installment impress me so much, but I was still really looking forward to picking this book up and seeing how everything was going to end for the characters. With plenty of battles, action sequences, romantic one-liners and plot changing twists with their own little bag of surprises mixed into it, I'm very happy to report that DESTINED was my absolute favourite book and the author, as promised, had successfully delivered and finished her series with a total BIG-BANG!

The one thing a reader can want in a series - especially with one that will soon come to an end - is to have everything turn out the way they want it to end, whether it's having the love triangle be sorted out for the main character or ensuring that everyone has their own happy ending with most of the loose ends being tied up as well. In this book's case, DESTINED, everything I was hoping for had actually happened and I guess you could say I was one happy reader when I closed this book and was quite proud to be right for once. Sure, there were a few events that were really surprising and there were so many plot twists I didn't see coming at all, but the ending was absolutely perfect and I couldn't have asked for anything better. For some fans, I know you will be sad. But for others like me . . . you'll be impressed.

The cast of characters in this book were back to being awesome and were written exceptionally well which was great to see Now I've had my ups and downs with the characters and the actions they've taken in the past few books, whether it was with the main characters or the supporting ones, but in DESTINED every single character (good and evil) had proven to be worthy of their roles as they carried the story along and had really up-stepped their game. For Laurel, David and Tamani, these three main characters surprised me in more ways than one. They really did. I always knew Laurel and Tamani were strong on the inside - their character growth only goes to prove it - but David for once in this series played a vital role in the book. He was always seen as the 'useless human boy' but that perspective of him changes entirely when it came to this final book. So good for him to show off his new fighting skills because he has many layers underneath that soft, caring boy exterior. But there's someone more important here and my favourite boy of all . . . Tamani.

Oh how I ADORED Tamani in this book. Tamani, one of the love interests for Laurel, was my favourite, favourite character in the entire series and my love for him still hasn't changed one bit. Throughout the series Tamani has always been there for everyone else and he's always been struggling to keep his emotions in check when it came to Laurel and protecting her from those who want to hurt her, without (you know) clouding his judgement with his romantic feelings for her. Again and again, Tamani just broke my heart in his FEELINGS alone, especially towards the ending of this book. But that heart was soon mended in the end (thank god) and everything about him made me smile and leap for joy when it came to Tamani's ending . . . it was soooooo good and he's soooooo mine. Well, okay, he's not exactly mine per se but still . . 

As for the decision Laurel has to make between her doting human boy David or her fierce protector Tamani, the love triangle - I'm also happy to announce - remained forever strong in this final book and although it does become pretty clear as the book progresses to whom our Laurel will choose to be with in the end, but I was a really happy person with how everything turned out. Sure, I could see Laurel's decision coming a mile away but I was all for it no matter what happened. Her decision was the right one to make just to clue you in, especially after the long battle she had to endure, and let's just say a huge smile is now on my face as I close this final book and reflect on it.

Overall, when it comes to Aprilynne Pike's fourth and final installment DESTINED, while it's always sad to say goodbye to some of our beloved characters though I'm sure many fans of the Wings series will be more than satisfied with this book. Trust me . . . I totally was and I can't wait to see what else Pike has up her sleeve which I'm sure is going to be nothing but amazeballs!

The Rating

5/5 stars

Monday, October 1, 2012

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

Pages: 432pgs

The Story

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn't drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and 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 needs - and wants - 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.

The Review

A big thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending a review copy of this book!

I didn't know what to expect from this book, other than practically everyone in the book reviewer blogger world was raving about it and saying it's the next big thing after the highly successful and bestseller adult series, Fifty Shades of Grey. Having not read Fifty Shades of Grey and then finding out - for this series - there might be a possible film in the works, I was still willing to go into this story without too many expectations and just see how everything played out. In the end though, after finally finishing the book in a couple of days, it was actually not too bad and it was definitely better than what I've read in the past of the 'edgy' book genre.

Pretty much what you've read from the storyline's blurb is pretty much all you will get from BEAUTIFUL DISASTER - fun, interesting and really . . . well, interesting. With the center story revolving around a very, very new and complicated relationship between two very, very complicated main characters, it's easy to say there's a cliche storyline that's written. After all, you have your good girl and then you have your bad boy, and basically this whole storyline is about these two older teens trying to make it through college life the best way they can as well as leaving behind some bad pasts and avoiding all sorts of complications in their wake. But while that's all well and good, the relationship shared between Abby and Travis is much more than it appears to be - for better and for worse.

Our main heroine, Abby, was someone I constantly felt conflicted with. The love and hate relationship is what I had, you know? At certain times, particularly around the first half of the book, she resembled your typical college student I could easily identify with, someone beginning her new life with her new friends with a great attitude towards life of the unknown as well, but then there were those other times too, where her character failed to impress me with her out-of-the-blue decisions and giving into temptation during her weakest moments which made me a bit saddened. Though, when it came down to it, I guess that's why I couldn't stop reading this book because there was something about Abby that I really liked as much as I hated myself for liking it about her. Argh. She's a really, really complicated one to describe to other readers. Really complicated in fact. I may not have understood her actions but overall I thought she was someone who made you keep reading the book and that's the whole point of a main character, right?

The next character . . . well boy oh boy, oh boy there's the love interest Travis! For someone so bad and so troubled as Travis, I have to say he was the main character I was most intrigued with and was dying to meet when I started this book. With many reviews talking about his character and how phenomenal he was in depth, I was pretty excited to meet him and when I did meet this boy . . . he's pretty much my worst nightmare off all fictional boys truth be told. Nope I'm not kidding here. He totally was! Both a motorbike-riding and a tattoo-wearing boy, someone who is always having sex with countless of women (way a go Travis for being disgraceful), fighting in bloody fight rings (again way a go for a good life) and being the dirty little secret girls want to keep hidden to themselves (again another way a go Trav), Travis was definitely someone you loved but mostly hated for being so . . . well . . . um . . . him. Though on another side of things, I can totally understand Travis's appeal to younger women such as myself and even older ones at that. I guess we liked how protective he was of Abby, even in some very awkward situations (he was fine in that aspect by the way) but for me personally . . . there was just one problem for his character. The overall relationship issue between him and Abby.

I mean c'mon you guys let's face it . . . the relationship shared between him and Abby is not healthy at all - I repeat not at all - and as much as I enjoyed this book in its entertaining book form, but the main reason why I didn't give this book an extra star was because of how the Travis and Abby relationship was presented. I know in experience how relationships can never be perfect and be all sunshine and rainbows, and I also know there are always going to be some complications involved in every relationship a person has with someone, but the thing is . . . I don't like promoting unhealthy relationships in books let alone a girl being in an actual relationship with a possessive, jealous, fist-beater boyfriend . . . I just don't like it. It doesn't matter whether he's a hottie rebel, a good-looking guy, a real charmer or even a boy who seems to watch over your every step and trying to do what's 'best for you' . . . it's just not what girls should aspire to have . . . it's wrong. Travis, as a character, has a big heart for a rough-around-the-edges guy and I get that, but with him acting with his fist rather than his head just because someone looks at his girlfriend in the 'wrong way', it doesn't excuse the fact on how violent and possessive and controlling he is . . . I couldn't stand being in a relationship with someone like Travis.

In saying that, I had no real problems with the storyline, especially in the first half of the book. It was rough in some places (I admit that) but it was still an addictive read. Only . . . once I hit the middle mark of the book and I continued reading it until the very end, unfortunately that's when things began to fall apart. Some points fell out of place for me and some things happened for no reason. But despite all of the crazy things that happened in relationships and other book events, this book was something I just wanted to keep on reading and that's the point of a book. The real point. Abby and Travis may not have been awesome characters but the supporting cast alongside them will definitely get you through til the end!

Overall, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER was in fact a beautiful disaster. Messy, edgy, dysfunctional and hella complicated in all the right places, but I know this book will definitely be a hit for readers looking for something completely different in the much older YA market and I'm looking forward to seeing Jamie McGuire's next book which is a version of this book, only it's going to be written in Travis's point-of-view, which should be interesting to say the least!

The Rating

3 1/2 / 5 stars
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