Friday, September 6, 2013

Book Review #356 - Cleo by Helen Brown



Helen Brown wasn't a cat person, but her nine-year-old son Sam was. So when Sam heard a woman telling his mum that her cat had just had kittens, Sam pleaded to go and see them.

Helen's heart melted as Sam held one of the kittens in his hands with a look of total adoration. In a trice the deal was done - the kitten would be delivered when she was big enough to leave her mother.

A week later, Sam was dead. Not long after, a little black kitten was delivered to the grieving family. Totally traumatised by Sam's death, Helen had forgotten all about the new arrival. After all, that was back in another universe when Sam was alive.

Helen was ready to send the kitten back, but Sam's younger brother wanted to keep her, identifying with the tiny black kitten who'd also lost her brothers. When Rob stroked her fur, it was the first time Helen had seen him smile since Sam's death. There was no choice: the kitten - dubbed Cleo - had to stay.
Kitten or not, there seemed no hope of becoming a normal family. But Cleo's zest for life slowly taught the traumatised family to laugh. She went on to become the uppity high priestess of Helen's household, vetoing her new men, terrifying visiting dogs and building a special bond with Rob, his sister Lydia, Helen - and later a baby daughter.
My Rating: 5/5
As I have stated on this blog before, I don't read too many memoir's of non-sporting personalities. However, I decided to read this because of its inclusion on the 2010 50 Books You Can't Put Down list which I am seriously behind in completing.
This book was published in 2009 and so I think it is clear that it was probably influenced by Marley and Me. The two are very similar, this obviously being the cat version.
I liked this book more than Marley and Me which surprised me a lot as I am definitely a dog person. I felt like this book had a lot more emotion and depth.
I really liked how as a reader you get to experience the journey of not only the cat Cleo but also a great bunch of real people who go through an unimaginable trauma.
This was a very honest portrayal of loss and amazing impact a pet can have on a family, even one as damaged as this one.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Review #355 - A Beautiful Fate (The Beautiful Fate #1) by Cat Mann


Obsessive and driven by nightmares, Ava Baio is uprooted from her Chicago home after the untimely and tragic death of her loving mother. Taken across country by her antagonistic grandmother and placed as a boarding student at a school in Dana Point, California, Ava struggles with isolation and the loss of her mother and her grandfather. Faced with having left her beloved brownstone behind and attending a new school, surrounded by new faces and unfamiliar scenery, she finds herself sorting through unfamiliar and uncharted feelings with a strange and beautiful boy, Ari – a modern day Adonis. After an unconventional start to their relationship, Ava becomes intensely absorbed by her love for Ari, and with his help and the help of his family, she discovers who she really is – a Fate descended from Atropos. She learns that the Greek mythology she grew up reading is not comprised of myth after all.

Ava faces constant challenges both in her relationship with Ari and with the fact that she is being hunted by six threatening and ruthless men who want nothing more than for her to die so that they can live forever. She has no choice but to stand up for those she has come to love. In doing so, she becomes something she hates, a killer.
A true page-turner, A Beautiful Fate is Part One of The Beautiful Fate Series. The novel is full of suspense, romance and the allure of ancient Greece. Ava and Ari will leave the reader hoping the story will never end.
My Rating: 3.5/5
I received this book for review from the author. Her Goodreads page can be found here.
There are so many young adult mythology books around at the moment and so I was glad this book approached that topic with a fresh new concept.
Ava was a very strong female character and I found that I instantly connected with her. Ari, like his family seemed too perfect at times but they were all warm characters.
One of my favourite characters was Rory. He was such a lively character. He actually kind of reminded me of Emmett from the Twilight Saga.
Ava's grandmother seemed a little shady to me and I think she might be somehow involved in something.
The romance seemed to take over the story at times pushing the mythology aspect into the background.
The ending was my favourite part though. It was very suspenseful and action packed. The cliff hanger was also very well portrayed.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Book Review #354 - The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg


Love is all you need... or is it? Penny's about to find out in this wonderful debut.

Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows: no more. It's a personal choice. . .and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born: The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her non dating ways . . . which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like...
My Rating: 3.5/5
Beneath the massive amounts of Beatles references, this book has a very interesting plot. The references always had an explanation with it for non Beatles fans like myself.
I knew I was going to love this book when I discovered that I was unable to put it down. The short nature of the chapters and the writing style were the reason behind this.
At first I thought that Penny's club was a little immature and was just her way of getting over a heartbreak.
Although by the end of the book the different reasons why girls joined and the ways that being a member of the club helped them grow changed my mind.
There were some parts I thought were unrealistic, like Penny and Diane not talking for 4 years and then suddenly becoming best friends again almost instantly.
I also thought that the principal's reaction to the club was unrealistic and was only written that way for a further plot twist and also as an antagonist.
Given the plot, I was surprised by the amount of male characters. Although not very many of them were portrayed in a positive light.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review #353 - Piece of Cake by Kate Forster (Smitten)


On the morning that Lola is due to fly to London, her dad's in an accident. There's no time to whinge about ruined plans - Lola has to just unpack her bags and act like an adult by taking over her dad's cafe.

Finding a new chef and working seven days a week is not the gap year Lola had in mind. But then she meets Sam, a hot backpacker and cook extraordinaire with a tragic secret past.

In a whirl of perfect pastries and delicate cupcakes, Lola and Sam start to realise that it's not just the kitchen warming up. But can their romance handle the heat?
My Rating: 5/5
Having read and enjoyed Beauty and the Beat I thought I would read the other Smitten books. This one seemed to have the most intriguing plot, so it's no surprise it is my favourite so far.
Lola was such an interesting character. Even though she didn't really know what she wanted from life, there was a strong sense of maturity about her. She was also very quirky which I liked.
Sam was another character that I really liked. He seemed very genuine and the chemistry between him and Lola was evident from their very first meeting.
Being set in Melbourne, this book has a very Australian feel about it which I loved because very little contemporary novels are set here. I especially liked that my city was included for a small period.
This book felt very realistic and although it didn't include very many plot twists it was never boring.
I am looking forward to reading the rest of the Smitten books especially if they are all of the quality of the two I have now read.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Book Review #352 - Out of His League by Pat Flynn


When Ozzie, an Australian exchange student, arrives in the West Texas town of Hope, life in America seems completely foreign. But his skills on the rugby pitch translate onto the football field as he becomes the star of a team in desperate need of a miracle to save their losing season.  As Ozzie settles in, America really does feel like the land of opportunity, and he soon finds himself torn between the lure of this new country and the ties that bind him to his home in Australia.

This co-mingling of cultures offers a fresh perspective of life in a Texas town where football is life, winning is everything, and the rest is just details.
My Rating: 2.5/5
Given that the only thing I love more than reading is sport, I had expected to enjoy it a lot more than what I did.
When I first started reading it, I really enjoyed it. It wasn't until Ozzie moved to the US that I started losing interest.
Ozzie was a character that I didn't like at all. He was under developed and I just wasn't able to connect with him at all. He also seemed too stereotyped.
This was a very smart concept for a book, but I just don't think it reached anywhere near its potential. I think this was largely to do with the writing style. It felt very choppy and had no continuity to it.