Friday, 31 May 2013

Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Author: John Green Website|Twitter
Published: 3 July 2006 (HarperCollins Children's Books)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 268
Buy the paperback: Amazon|Waterstone's|BookDepository
Buy the e-book: Kindle|Kobo

Source: Bought

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

My Review:
Looking for Alaska follows Miles who is starting at a new boarding school in a completely different part of the country. There he meets several people, including the intriguing Alaska Young who completely captures his attention.
The first John Green book I read was The Fault in Our Stars, which was a book I absolutely adored. Since then, I've been kind of disappointed with Green's other novels (Paper Towns/An Abundance of Katherines). I think I set the standard pretty high by reading TFiOS first, but I'd heard really good things about Looking for Alaska so I've been excited to read it. And it didn't disappoint.

I've always loved John Green's characters but sometimes I've struggled to connect with them. That definitely wasn't the case with this book. They felt completely real to me. I was immediately drawn to Miles. I loved his habit of memorising famous people's last words, reading biographies and the fact he's a bit of an outcast before moving schools. His voice throughout the story just phrased everything so accurately that I could completely relate to the world around him.

His new friends at Culver Creek, the boarding school he moves to, are a pretty awesome bunch too. I loved his roommate Chip - nicknamed "The Colonel" - who introduces him to booze, cigarettes and Alaska Young. He really made me laugh to with his habit of pulling pranks. Then there was Alaska herself who was completely captivating. I can see why Miles is so drawn to her! She's rebellious and a bit mysterious, plus a total feminist which I thought was really interesting. She'd come out with these huge statements about women and I'd be there completely agreeing with her.

I've mentioned the booze and cigarettes already and I think one of my favourite things about Looking for Alaska was the way it didn't shy away from things like that. It dealt with things like teenagers hiding booze in their rooms and sneaking out to smoke in a very matter of fact way which I really admired, because teens do those things, and I don't think it's an accurate portrayal of school life if you gloss over them. It also tackled sex in an equally brilliant, head on way. I liked how we saw Miles explore his relationships with the girls around him and how it wasn't all wishy-washy love story, but at the same time he had a real understanding of what he wanted and what things meant to him. He's a pretty caring person.

I also loved how setting it in a boarding school gave a great insight into school politics. There's the social hierarchy and how the weekly boarders face off against the full time boarders. It was interesting seeing how the kids manipulated the adults around them to get away with things. I also liked the exploration of class and the difference between the scholarship kids and the rich kids.

The book is written with the "chapters" titled "x many days before" so you know pretty early on that the whole story is leading up to something. Early on I wasn't thinking too much about what the event was, but as the number of days ticked down I was on edge, waiting for that reveal and trying to figure out just what it was. And I totally didn't see it coming, so when it all kicked off and we reached the part of the book title "after" I was just in a complete state of shock. It was so brilliantly done and left me a total wreck for the remainder of the story.

I've always admired John Green's poetic writing style and in Looking for Alaska I was able to really connect with the writing as well as the characters. In the story Miles is studying world religion where they are asked to look at life and death and what happens afterwards as well as how people live for now and focus on the present. I thought those lessons linked in so well with the events in the story and the themes running through it. It was one of those books that makes you think without being pretentious. I was just so captivated by some of the thoughts the characters had and the things they came out with.

It's rarely I say a book is perfect but for me, Looking for Alaska was pretty much the perfect book. I just want to re-read it over again because I'm sure there are some wonderful things about it that I've missed. I think books like this are so hard to review because I can't really express how I feel about it accurately enough in words! This is definitely right up there with The Fault in Our Stars, though, that's for sure.

Rating: 5*
What to read next: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Books like this: Paper Towns by John Green, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Review: A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly

A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Author: Jennifer Donnelly Website|Twitter
Published: 3 May 2004 (Bloomsbury)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 380
Buy the paperback: Amazon|Waterstone's|BookDepository

Source: Bought for me as a gift

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
When Mattie is given letters by a guest at the hotel where she has a summer job, she thinks the guest is simply upset. But when the woman is found drowned next day, Mattie must decide whether she will read them, or burn them as requested. A touching funny surprising novel set in 1906 and based on a true story.

My Review:
A Gathering Light follows Mattie Gokey who grows up with aspirations to do more than work on her father's farm. When she takes on a job in a local hotel she becomes wrapped up in the mystery of a woman who dies tragically on the lake after leaving a series of letters in Mattie's possesion.

It took me a little while to get into A Gathering Light, partly because it darted backwards and forwards in time in a way that wasn't clearly indicated. The book flits between Mattie's time at home on the farm and her time working at the hotel but there was nothing at the beginning of the chapters to suggest the time or place had changed so it took a few paragraphs for me to register the switch sometimes. Aside from that it was a technique I really liked because it made the story even more gripping as I tried to work out how the two parts would fit together. There were also a lot of characters introduced in the beginning who I had to get my head around.

Once I overcame these very small barriers, though, I really began to enjoy the story and those characters, especially Mattie herself who narrates the story. She's a real fighter! Not only does she have to fight her father for the right to go off to work, but she has to battle for the right to gain an education. Mattie is obviously very bright and loves to read (I always adore characters who are passionate about books!) and dreams of being a writer. It was so easy to root for her when she was facing such obstacles.

I really liked the way the book was written. The use of local accent and dialect in the way the characters spoke really brought them to life and allowed me to get lost in their world. The book also used Mattie's habit of finding a world of the day from the dictionary and integrated it into the book, with each chapter titles with her particular word of the day. I can be quite sceptical of characters who read the dictionary because I can't help but think it's a way for the author to add in fancy words they couldn't otherwise use in context, but in the case it worked because Mattie is so passionate about learning and reading.

A Gathering Light covers a lot of social issues including poverty and the racism suffered by Mattie's friend Weaver (who was actually one of my favourite characters!). It also highlighted the attitudes towards women at the time. I thought the relationship between Mattie and her female teacher - a writer whose books have been banned because and scrutinised because for their content - was one of my highlights of the book, and that was a really interesting insight into Mattie's place in the world as a woman. The romance element of A Gathering Light also raised a few issues with Mattie having to weigh up her true feelings from what was expected by her from society.

What's even more impressive about A Gathering Light is that it's based on real events, and the author's note at the back of the book shows just how well researched the book is, even if parts of the story are fictionalised. I really liked the mystery of the letters left in Mattie's possesion which are the real life basis to the story. Like Mattie, I longed to know what happened.

This isn't usually the type of thing I'd choose to read and I probably would never have come across it or thought to read it if it hadn't been given to me. I don't read a lot of historical but it's definitely a genre I'm interested in reading more of. A Gathering Light definitely persuaded me of that! I ended up really falling for the story and the setting, as well as the time the book takes place. It was my mum who bought me this book after she read and enjoyed it with her book group, and I think the fact we both liked it sums up the wide appeal of this novel. It should appeal to fans of YA with the focus being on Mattie, a teenager herself, as well as appealing to wider readers because of the beautiful nature of the writing.

Once I settled into this book I absolutely fell in love with it. I'd highly recommend it to those, who like me, maybe steer clear of historical novels, because A Gathering Light was a revelation and a delight, and a book I believe can cross generations. It's one I'll be recommending for years to come.

Rating: 4*
What to read next: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Books like this: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

What I'm Recommending! (#1)

Before I started this blog, one of the things I loved doing was recommending books to friends. I've decided to turn that into a feature on the blog by sharing books I've been recommending recently to friends or people online, along with a brief explanation of why I'm recommending it. That way, hopefully people can discover a few new books without having to always trawl through reviews. I hope you enjoy this new feature!

What I'm Recommending:  
The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer.

Why I'm Recommending it: 
I had a friend who loved retellings and sci-fi and another who loved dystopia so this was a great rec for them both! Book one in the series is Cinder (a Cinderella retelling) and book two is Scarlet (a Red Riding Hood retelling.)

What I'm Recommending:  
Legend by Marie Lu

Why I'm Recommending it:
 Loads of people are reading Divergent right now and I think if you like Divergent then you'll love this.  

What I'm Recommending: 
Hidden Gem by India Lee and Intangible by J. Meyers

Why I'm Recommending it: 
Somebody on Twitter was asking me for Kindle recommendations recently and these are two great self-published novels you need on your Kindle. Hidden Gem is a really fun contemporary with a great concept (girl leading a double life as a pop star!) and Intangible is one of my favourite urban fantasy books - plus the sequel just came out!

What books have you been recommending recently? I'd love to hear your recs in the comments. And check back soon for more of What I'm Recommending!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Discovered Through Blogs

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish and this week is a freebie/pick your own topic week! I don't know if this topic's been done before, but with my blogoversary coming up I've been reflecting on how many incredible blogs I've discovered over the past year since I joined the blogospehere myself. I get so many of my recs from blogs and they highlight books that aren't even on my radar. So the following books are all ones I discovered through book blogs or bloggers on Twitter and Goodreads that I may not have come across otherwise. Enjoy!

1. Defiance by C. J. Redwine
This was one of the books I saw discussed a lot on Twitter. I immediately added it to Goodreads and my Amazon wishlist and when it turned up for Christmas I was delighted! And it was just as incredible as I was hoping for. Plus seeing gorgeous covers on blogs always helps and this one is stunning! <3
2. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
 I hadn't heard of this author before but SO many bloggers mentioned her that one day I typed her name into my library's catalogue and this one came up. It was such a powerful, emotional read and I understood the hype at once. I can't wait to check out more by this author.
3. Crewel by Gennifer Albin
This was another one that I saw lots of talk on Twitter about in the build up to the release. Like Defiance, it was a debut and I think that's where bloggers are so useful. These are authors I may not have heard about otherwise! I can't wait to read the next book.
4. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Guys, I was so behind the times on this one. How did I cope without Perry for so long? When bloggers started talking about the sequel to this one coming out, I knew I had to find out what I was missing. 

5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
 So many blogs raved about this one and I may not have picked it up if I hadn't seen their praise! I really enjoyed both this and the sequel. This is technically a joint entry for Scarlet too because when the reviews of that started going up I would check my library's catalogue every week to see if they had it yet! 

6. Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase
I wanted to include something I'd read recently and it's nice to have some indie thrown in as well! I hadn't heard of this author but when this book was on sale for Kindle it seemed every blogger was tweeting about it and reviews kept popping up. I caved and bought it and it was just the read I needed at the time.

7. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
I think this was one that I spotted first by following bloggers on Goodreads because a lot of people were reading it, then the reviews started popping up and I became determined to get my hands on a copy. Then I won a copy from the UK publisher - wahey! One of my favourite books of last year.

8. What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
This was another book with lots of pre-release buzz! And another debut author. Super thankful to the bloggers who talked about this one because it was awesome.
9. Skylark by Meagan Spooner
The UK paperback of this didn't actually come out until a few months the US release, but Amazon UK had the American hardback available so that went on my wishlist and turned up at Christmas. I'm so glad I got my hands on it when I did because I adored it! And the hardback is so pretty. Plus through all the buzz on Twitter I managed to blag myself a signed postcard from the author which takes pride of place on my bedroom wall!

10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The love for this one left me so curious that I actually requested it from my library. I remember being so excited when I started it because I couldn't wait to find out what it was like. And I adored it! I need to read Lola and the Boy Next Door now because that gets equal amounts of love from book bloggers!

If you read and reviewed any of these books then thank you! Because without you I might still be unaware of their awesome-ness. Which books did you pick up because of blogs and bloggers? Let me know in the comments! And if you have your own TTT post then be sure to link me up and I'll check it out :)

Monday, 27 May 2013

Review: Starlet's Web by Carla J. Hanna

 Starlet's Web by Carla J. Hanna
Author: Carla J. Hanna Website|Twitter
Published: 2 November 2012 (CreateSpace)
Format: Kindle e-book
Pages: 308
Buy the paperback: Amazon
Buy the e-book: Kindle|Kobo

Source: Received free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
A-list actress, 17-year-old Liana Marie Michael struggles to find herself when Hollywood's obsession with youth and power threatens to destroy her future. Used to talking and thinking in scripts, can Lia find her own voice? Can she and a Latino Tim Tebow overcome Hollywood's web of lies?

Liana is dating Hollywood's hottest heartthrob while filming her seventh motion picture with sexy co-star Byron. Surrounded by a culture of casual sex and adult responsibilities, Lia feels lost and confused. With her film soon to wrap, her acting contracts up for renewal, her high school graduation looming and growing tension between her and smart student athlete, Manuel, life feels overwhelming. Will Lia find the courage to share her love for Manuel, a guy unimpressed with Hollywood? In the eternal quest for youth, what life-shattering secrets has Lia's mom been keeping from her? Can Manuel accept Lia's role?

My Review:
Starlet's Web follows seventeen year old actress Marie, who's grown up in the industry with an actress for a mother and attending award shows left, right and centre. She has a pretty tough life and it gets tougher when she's dumped by her Hollywood boyfriend as part of a media stint.

What struck me when I started Starlet's Web was just how horrible Marie's life was. I was really shocked by some of the stuff she's been through and seen over the years, and the way she's treated by those around her. I really love books about the celebrity lifestyle and usually they're sort of glamourised to the point you feel jealous of the characters, but that definitely wasn't the case in that book. I love that the author has taken a more gritty angle and explored some really tough issues with Marie.

As a main character, I was completely on side with her. Instantly I felt sympathy for her for the way she's been used and abused and I was really rooting for her to stand up for herself! The relationships with her divorced parents were really interesting. I loathed her mother who seems to use her as a puppet and had real admiration for her dad and stepmother for seeing what Marie really wanted and helping her to decide what to do with her future.

I liked that we got to see the contrast between Marie's celebrity lifestyle and the normal, everyday teenage things. She still has to worry about school and I thought it was really sweet that we got to see her go to prom, something every girl worries about and wants to be perfect! Then there was the fact she had to cope with turning eighteen and what that meant for her career and life going forward. It was so much responsibility for her to have.

I loved the metaphor about the "web" of Marie's life and how she felt like the fly trapped in it. It was referenced throughout the book and I thought that was really clever. I also really liked reading about the locations. I thought the descriptions of Santa Monica were really beautiful and helped me escape into the story.

Where the book lost me a little was the romance side. We're very quickly introduced to a lot of male characters in Marie's life, and I mean a lot. There was ex-boyfriend Evan, love of her life Manuel, as well as Byron, Matthew, Grant, Alan... I just couldn't get my head around all these guys and why they needed to be there. On the one hand it showed how Marie was treated like a piece of meat because basically all these boys were creeping on her and trying to get with her. I respected the fact she didn't want to get involved with any casual relationships and stood up for her views on that. I think of all the guys Manuel is obviously the sweetest of the bunch and the one you're supposed to root for, but sometimes I felt even their relationship was a bit clingy and needy.

Just when I was losing hope a little, Starlet's Web hit me with the biggest and most amazing plot twist that blew my socks off. I just sat there reading with my mouth hanging open and practically shouting at the book! I really loved that exciting, devious twist and it made me want to carry on with the rest of the books in the series to find out what happens, because I realised as the characters were put in danger that I'd really become invested in their lives and what happens to them.

The first half of Starlet's Web was a little slow and frustrating at times for me but by the end I was completely gripped to the action. I think as the first book in a series it has a lot of potential, and I'm hoping I'll enjoy the second book even more. If you like books about celebrity lifestyle then I'd recommend this one as it comes from a bit of a different angle.

Rating: 3*
What to read next: Starlet's Run by Carla J. Hanna, the second book in the Starlet series
Books like this: Hidden Gem by India Lee

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Weekly Book Round Up! 26th May

 Weekly Book Round Up!

Welcome to another recap of what's been happening on the blog and what I've been reading this week! I had an amazing week book haul wise and also got quite a lot read and reviewed, so it's a busy post today. Enjoy!

Currently reading:
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Books finished:
Fire Spell by Laura Amy Schlitz
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Starlet's Web by Carla J. Hanna
Starlet's Run by Carla J. Hanna

Books reviewed:
Tethers by Jack Croxall
Merch Girl by Rebecca Lewis
Undone by Cat Clarke
Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase

Links above go to my reviews. I have so many reviews queued up that I'm posting a few more than usual to try and clear my schedule for the next few months. Yay for being productive!


House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
Drummer Girl by Bridget Tyler

So excited about both of these! Won Drummer Girl from Luna's Little Library blog giveaway (thank you so much to Luna and Templar!) along with a load of cool make-up and drumsticks! I've been really looking forward to this book so I'm excited to have my hands on a copy. And I won House of Secrets the other week from a Tesco Twitter giveaway but it arrived this week - yay! It's signed too which is super cool. I actually had this one out from the library but returned it when I found out I'd won a copy. Excited to pick it up again!

A huge thank you to the author for the review copies!

Library books:

Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer
Insignia by S. J. Kincaid

Library holds:
Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan
The Ninth Star by Laura Albins
Twixt by Sarah Diemer
Gone by Christine Kersey

Links above go to Goodreads. Particularly excited about Crossing the Line as I loved Pushing the Limits! I don't usually read these extras unless they're free so really happy I'll get the chance. The others all look really interesting, especially The Ninth Star which I think is dystopian and Twixt which is GLBT.

Other posts:
Top Ten Tuesdays: Covers of Books I've Read
Teaser Tuesdays
News Round Up!

What books have you got your hands on this week? Read anything exciting? Let me know in the comments - I love hearing from you!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

News Round Up! 25th May

Here's another recap of the latest news stories that have been catching my eye this week. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Exciting news for attendees of Leakycon Portland. It was revealed this week that a sneak peak of City of Bones would preview at the con with a live chat from Cassandra Clare. Read about it on the Leakycon website here.

The cover for the upcoming debut YA novel The Elites by Natasha Ngan was revlaled this week. You can see the gorgeous cover over and find out more about the book over on Natasha's website or add the book to Goodreads right here.

The opening chapters of Altered, the sequel to Crewel, have been featured in a series of blog posts this week. Check out this sneak peak over on Bewitched Bookworms. I adored Crewel so I can't wait to read the rest of Altered!

An official Divergent Instagram was launched this week as a way of revealing the faction symbols. Check out the page and the awesome faction images at this link.

An annotated first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was auctioned this week. The book which contained notes and drawings from J. K. Rowling herself was sold for £150,000 to raise money for the English Pen writer's association. Read more about this story over on the Guardian website.

Amazon has made a controversial move this week by announcing plans to publish fanfiction. Writers taking part in the Kindle Worlds program will be able to make royalites from their fanfiction. What do you make of this move? Read more over on Publishers Weekly.

Which of these news stories are you most excited about? Don't forget to check out some of this week's new releases below!

New releases:
The Runaway Queen by Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson

Transparent by Natalie Whipple

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

September Girls by Bennet Madison

Friday, 24 May 2013

Review: Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase

Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase

Author: Nichole Chase Website|Twitter
Published: 30 March 2013
Format: Kindle e-book
Pages: 452
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Smashwords: E-book
Kobo: E-book

Source: Bought

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Samantha Rousseau is used to getting her hands dirty. Working toward a master’s degree in wildlife biology while helping take care of her sick father, she has no time for celebrity gossip, designer clothes, or lazy vacations. So when a duchess from the small country of Lilaria invites her to dinner, Samantha assumes it’s to discuss a donation for the program. The truth will change the course of her life in ways she never dreamed.

My Review:
I bought this book whilst it was on offer for Kindle because literally my entire Twitter feed was people tweeting about how everyone needed to read it. Suddenly Royal follows Samantha Rousseau whose life is turned upside down when she finds out she's descended for Lilarian royalty.

This book is New Adult and Samantha is a graduate student working as a student teacher, but the way it's written is very similar to YA and I think it would appeal to YA readers. There were a few swear words dotted throughout and some slightly steamier scenes with it being written with a main character who's that bit older. I found it really interesting to see a story like this told about an older character, though. And seeing Sam trying to balance her new found fame and studies was really interesting.

The main plot of Suddenly Royal revolves around Sam finding out she's a duchess and being shown the ropes by some of Lilarian's royalty, including Prince Alex who quickly gains the nickname of Prince Yummy. I thought there was a really great balance between Sam dealing with her new life and the romance element. I absolutely adored Alex and their developing relationship was just so sweet. The flirting between them was so cute and I liked the Sam took her time deciding what she was going to do about her feelings for Alex.

I laughed a lot during this book. Sam had so many hilarious lines (making Harry Potter references and some cracking moments revolving around her addiction to coffee!) and I think it helped that she had such great characters to bounce off. Alex, obviously, is so charming and the two of them had great banter. But I also loved the relationship between Sam and Jess, who is her roommate from back home. The two of them were hilarious and I really liked that their friendship was such an important thing to both of them and the story.

Not only was Sam funny but I found her just be a really fascinating, well rounded character. She's one of the few characters who I found myself looking up to. She's studying something she'd passionate about, looking after her sick father and always putting other people first. I admired so much how she dealt with everything she goes though from homesickness to looking after her sick father. Plus she loves books! I'm always up for a character who loves books.

Reading Suddenly Royal was such a fun experience, from the story to the layout/formatting of the book itself. It had little crown art at the start of each chapter with a newspaper heading below which related to Sam's current situation. I love little touches like that! I had a few niggles with the writing sometimes in that characters would move from one place to another with a jump and I'd lose track for a moment of where they were and what was happening, but overall I was really impressed.

I'm so glad I picked up this book when I did and I'll definitely be recommending it in future. It had a bit of everything, from strong characters and romance to emotional moments that really tug at the heartstrings! I was so invested in the story that as I reached the final pages I just didn't want it to end. The great news is the author seems to have another book lined up in this series, and personally I can't wait to read it! I'll definitely be checking out more of her books.

Rating: 4*
What to read next: Royal Agenda by Nichole Chase, book 2 in the Suddenly Royal series
Books like this: The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, The Rock Star's Daughter by Caitlyn Duffy

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Review: Undone by Cat Clarke

Undone by Cat Clarke
Author: Cat Clarke Website|Twitter
Published: 31 January 2013 (Quercus)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 502
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Waterstone's: Paperback|e-book
Book Depository: Paperback

Source: Won

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she's learning to live with it.

Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online ... and he kills himself.

Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down. 

My Review:
I really enjoyed Entangled by Cat Clarke which I read a few months ago, so I was super excited when I won a copy of this book! Undone follows Jem Halliday whose best friend Kai has just commited suicide after being outed as gay in a video posted online. 

Firstly I have to praise Clarke for writing such instantly recognisable characters. Everyone in this book was so true to life and I think she has British secondary school experiences absolutely spot on. We live in a world where teens sneak out, drink and have sex and Undone doesn't attempt to sugar coat that fact, for which I am so relieved to see.

This book also covers some pretty hardhitting issues and does it with the perfect balance of honesty and sensitivity. What happens to Kai is shocking, but suicide is definitely an issue that needs to be talked about openly. Undone also highlights the battle people like Kai face when faced with being open about their sexuality. It was just heartbreaking read Jem talk about her hopes for a world where sexuality isn't something that people are judged for and bullied because of.

On to the plot itself! I loved the way Undone was written with the story alternating between the present were Kai has died and the past where we see the build up to his death. My favourite part was the letters from Kai which were interspersed throughout the book. It meant that we got to know (and fall in love with!) Kai as a character by hearing his voice and living his story in his own words despite the fact he isn't present in Jem's life anymore. He was such a brilliant character and someone I think everyone would want to have as a friend, which is what makes this book all the more heartbreaking.

The majority of the story revolves around Jem's plot to get revenge for Kai's death and target the people behind it. I was torn at times over what I thought of Jem's actions. I never really managed to connect with her as a character. Whilst I was completely sympathetic to her situation, I sometimes struggled to get inside her head and understand why she thinks the things she does. For example, she talks a lot about hating life (even before Kai's death) and in particular hating her parents and I never quite understood why she felt that way. It made her come across as more stroppy than troubled at times.

Aside from that, I was completely gripped to Jem's story and the twists and turns that accompany it. It was really fascinating seeing her become this completely different person as she works at getting close to the popular kids by choosing to act like them.She develops and changes so much throughout the story and although I didn't always agree with her actions (and there were several uncomfortable moments) it made for an addictive and intense plot.

Where this book really blew me away was the ending. I couldn't stop reading the last few hundred pages and after I'd finished I felt like I needed my shattered heart piecing back together! I went on such a rollercoaster ride emotionally reading Undone. I'll definitely be checking out Cat Clarke's future books because this was another phenomenally written story full of powerful messages and fascinating characters that shook me up and broke me down!

Rating: 4*
What to read next: Entangled by Cat Clarke, Torn by Cat Clarke
Books like this: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Review: Merch Girl by Rebecca Lewis

 Merch Girl by Rebecca Lewis

Author: Rebecca Lewis Website|Twitter
Published: 4 May 2013
Format: Kindle e-book
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle

Source: Received free copy from author in exchange for an honest review

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Lacey Kind doesn’t have the guts to talk to cute boys, isn’t a size two, and would rather stay home and listen to music than go to a party. But in the summer before her first year of college, she ends up thousands of miles away from home, in the back of a tour bus, underneath the half-naked body of the hottest teen rock star in the country.

When Lacey and her best friend Trina sneak into a Boston nightclub to see their favorite band, they not only get to watch their rock gods perform for the first time, but score a chance to meet the band too. Lacey’s heart races as she comes face-to-face with her idol, nineteen-year-old lead singer, Logan Shire.

My Review:
I've been searching for more music themed YA novels recently so I when I came across Merch Girl I actually got in touch with the author who very kindly sent me a copy to review. Merch Girl follows Lacey and best friend Trina as they head off on tour with their favourite band.

You know when you finish a book and end up overwhelmed by all of the feelings? That was me after finishing Merch Girl! I loved this book so much, but we better start at the beginning. Immediately I was drawn to main character Lacey. She starts out shy and awkward which I can totally relate to. She's never had a boyfriend and is kind of carried along by her best friend Trina, who's the more outgoing one of the two. The book is set during the summer before Lacey starts college and I think that's the perfect time to explore yourself and have fun, so it was great to see Lacey experience that and gain some confidence.

Needless to say with the characters hanging around with a band made up of three good looking guys, there's plenty of romance to be had! Lacey finds herself drawn to lead singer Logan, and I have to admit, I am completely with her there. I don't often get fictional crushes but Logan is totally swoonworthy! I absolutely loved him. He had great chemistry with Lacey and I really enjoyed their scenes together. Despite Lacey being shy, she just seems to be so comfortable with Logan and he was such a caring and thoughtful character (which made for a nice change!). They have a fair few barriers up against them, mainly the attention Logan gets from fans and the fact the record label want the guys to appear single, so it was good seeing how the two of them coped with those obstacles.

Now I wanted a book about music but I never imagined I would get such an experience! Reading Merch Girl left me feeling like I was right there on tour with Lacey and the gang. I could feel the atmosphere of the gigs and got swept up in the celebrity, rock and roll lifestyle of the band. I absolutely love road trip novels as well so having that element of the story was an added bonus! I enjoyed reading about all the different places they get to visit (and I was only a teeny bit jealous...).

The friendship between Lacey and Trina was a real backbone to the story. I adored the relationship the girls had and how they were always on hand to give each other advice, whether it be about matters of the heart or what to wear the next day. They really balanced each other out as well being quite different from each other.

There were more great characters to mix up the story a bit, from bitchy Jenna who causes a whole load of drama, to superfan Devin who gave that insight into the band's fans. I loved all the little sub-plots going on alongside Lacey's adventures because it meant there was always something happening.

I couldn't put this book down. By the end I'd surprised myself with just how emotional I'd become about the story coming to a close! I was just so invested in the characters and the plot and didn't want that journey to end but when it did I was blown away by what a perfect way to leave things it was.

I honestly can't recommend this book enough. It's fun, yet filled with drama and has a fantastic love story. I think it will appeal to a wide range of people, from lovers of YA contemporary to die hard music fans. If you've obessed over a band at any time in your life (and let's face it, who hasn't?) then you'll find something to relate to in there. And it really encapsulated that time of life when you're finishing school and heading out into the big wide world. The writing completely caught my attention and I can't wait to read more from this author!

Rating: 5*
Books like this: Catching the Fever by Kylee Gwartney, The Rock Star's Daughter by Caitlyn Duffy

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Teaser Tuesdays: 21st May

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"I turn back into the room. My eyes are adjusting to the fading light but there don't seem to be nothing here anyway but boards and a faint stink."

- page 25, The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking, #2) by Patrick Ness

Top Ten Tuesday: Covers of Books I've Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, and this week is favourite covers of books you've read. This was SO hard to narrow down because there are so many beautiful covers out there, but I've tried to go with ones that really drew me in when I first saw them.

1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
I love the shoe! It just makes a statement don't you think? And sums up the modern twist on Cinderella pretty well.

2. In Your Dreams by Amy Martin
This was the redone cover and when I first saw it I absolutely fell in love with it. They kept the eye which was the focus of the original cover and added so much more colour and depth. The font is stunning too!

3. Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Purple is my favourite colour so obviously I was drawn to this one straight away and the stars are all sparkly.

4. Defiance by C. J. Redwine
Okay so when I first opened this boook (it was a Christmas present) I couldn't stop stroking it. I just think it's really striking and again I love the font

5. Splintered by A. G. Howard
Wahh it was so hard to return this one to the library! I love all the green and planty-ness plus the wicked stare that model has going on.

6. Fire Spell by Laura Amy Schlitz
I only just finished this book and I loved it. I love the fiery font and the elegant pose of the puppet, and how London is incorporated into the background.

 7. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
This is another one that I got from the library and I think I came home and took a photo of the book straight away because it was so pretty!

8. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
So this is the cover of Catching Fire on the copy I own and I don't think they make it anymore. The new one is blue and I don't like it :( but this one has purple which makes it infinitely more awesome.

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
I think this is my favourite Harry Potter cover just because there is so much attention to detail. Like I literally didn't notice some stuff until years after reading it.

10. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
This cover is just so summery! And I read it during the summer so that really added to my love for it. Plus I love the writing and how they've used different colours and fonts.

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