Thursday, November 28, 2013

Book Review #390 - The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler


It's 1996 and very few high school students have ever used the internet. Facebook will not be invented until several years in the future. Emma just got a computer and an America Online CD. She and her best friend Josh power it up and log on - and discover themselves on Facebook in 2011. Everybody wonders what they'll be like fifteen years in the future. Josh and Emma are about to find out.
My Rating: 3/5
This book has been on my bookshelf unread for a few years. I had been putting off reading it because the reviews I read about it were all mainly negative. Whilst I didn't think this book was perfect, I did find more positives than negatives with it.
The main negative point was the characters. They were all one dimensional. I had a hard time believing the relationships between them. Emma and Josh lacked personality to the point where they could have been the same character.
The plot is interesting and entirely unique. Although it is predictable most of the time and straightforward as there are no real plot twists I don't think this book would have worked any other way.
I thought that the two writing styles were quite similar and so they blended well together. The short styled chapters helped with this.
Being a 90's kid I really enjoyed the nostalgic 90's feel to it and the non-stop references to it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Review #389 - The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater


Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...
My Rating: 4/5
I received this book for review from Scholastic Australia. It is the sequel to The Raven Boys.
I love all the characters in this series. They all have their flaws which makes them all unique and relatable.
Ronan played a bigger part in this book than the first one which made him more dimensional. He has a dark secret which was the main plot in this book.
Blue's main issue in this book is her prophecy of killing her true love with her first kiss. She realises she has different type of feelings for Adam and Gansey.
Adam was the character I felt developed the most in this book. He is no longer being held back by his abusive father and finds himself fending for himself. He is confused most of the time about what he wants from life and also how he lives with the sacrifice he made.
I found the Mr Gray a bit confusing. He wasn't that developed as  character and I had expected more from the way his journey ended.
Whilst I do really enjoy the vividness of the writing, at times I found myself having to re-read paragraphs because the story jumped around at times which got confusing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Review #388 - The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries #1) by Meg Cabot


What? A princess??

Me??? Yeah, right.

Mia Thermopolis is pretty sure there's nothing worse than being a five-foot-nine, flat-chested freshman, who also happens to be flunking Algebra.

Is she ever in for a surprise.

First Mom announces that she's dating Mia's Algebra teacher. Then Dad has to go and reveal that he is the crown prince of Genovia. And guess who still doesn't have a date for the Cultural Diversity Dance?
My Rating: 3/5
This book had a very unique premise which is the reason why I decided to read this.
I didn't really care for the whole high school drama part of the book as it was predictable, immature and I felt like it also slowed down the progress of the story.
This book was a lot funnier than I was expecting it to be. Mia was quite witty especially in her diary entries.
Given that this series is quite long I am interested in seeing how the story goes. I am definitely have intentions of continuing on with this series.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review #287 - Jimmy: My Story by James Anderson


He's the good-looking lad from Burnley whose brilliance on the pitch and good looks have drawn comparisons with David Beckham and who has established himself as one of the most exciting cricketers in world. In his first book, James Anderson (or Jimmy, as everyone knows him) tells the story of his life in cricket. From promising beginnings at Burnley Cricket club where he discovered, seemingly overnight, that he could bowl faster than the rest, to his first-class debut with Lancashire and the England call up that followed, to playing under Darren Fletcher and the run of hat tricks that made him England's golden boy. Career-halting injury devastated Anderson but then came a recent glorious return to form making this is a tale of exuberance, determination and sheer force of character.

Jimmy Anderson has earned himself a place at the high table of English cricket and this book, much like the man himself, is sure to get people talking.
My Rating: 4/5
I would consider Jimmy Anderson as one of my favourite cricketers so I was always going to enjoy this book.
I read this book in less than a day. It was quite easy to read especially the first part. When the on-field part took over it slowed down a bit but was still interesting.
He gave very insightful information about his career and the Ashes parts were obviously the most fascinating.
There were a few parts that were particularly interesting like his altercation with Michael Clarke or Brad Haddin's on-field sledging tactics.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review #286 - Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2) by Stephanie Perkins


Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighbourhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
My Rating: 5/5
I read Anna and the French Kiss early last year and absolutely loved it and so I can't believe it took me so long to read this.
What I loved most about Anna and the French Kiss was the setting as it really showcased the fact that it was set in Paris. In this book, it didn't have a fancy setting like Paris but it was still very vividly portrayed.
The characters in this book are instantly likeable. Lola was a very interesting character. She is eccentric in the way she dresses but underneath everything she is actually quite insecure.
Cricket was my favourite character. I don't think anybody could not like him. He was the polar opposite to his twin sister Calliope.
It was unique that Lola had same sex parents as I don't think I have encountered that in a book before.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Review #385 - Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins


Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

My Rating: 4/5
This is my second time reading this book. I decided to read it again as the movie is released later this week. When I decided to read this book I thought that I wouldn't find it unputdownable this time around because I knew what was going to happen and so I gave myself 2 days to read it. I ended up finishing it in around 6 hours.
There was a lot more foreshadowing in this book in that it hints heavily of what occurs in the third book Mockingjay which I obviously didn't pick up on during the first time I read it.
Katniss is again such a strong, independent character and really brings the book alive with her amazing presence. Because Katniss is a victor that brought fame and fortune to her and her family but she doesn't act any differently.
Peeta seemed more like a lovesick puppy in this book which annoyed me at times but overall I thought that he had strengthened a lot since the first book.
With this book very little time is actually devoted to them in the arena and instead focuses on the build up to it and the rising problems the districts are causing rebelling against the capitol.
The ending is one of my favourite cliff hangers that I have come across in all books I have read and I can't wait to see it portrayed on the big screen.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book Review #384 - Eighth Grade Bites (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod #1) by Heather Brewer


Junior high really stinks for thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret. His mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers and no one to teach him, Vlad struggles daily with blood cravings and enlarged fangs. When a strange substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. And then he realises he's being hunted by a vampire killer, and suddenly hunger, girls and bullies seem not quite such a problem after all.
My Rating: 4/5
This is my second time reading this book. I have decided to read the whole series again so I can start the spin-off series The Slayer Chronicles.
This is a great first book in a series. It sets up the rest of the series perfectly. Vlad is such a fascinating, likeable character.
The plot was interesting enough, there isn't much depth to it but it was fast paced enough that I found that I didn't mind.
There are a few secondary characters that are quite developed such as Henry, Nelly and a few other students at Vlad's school.
The whole vampire aspect is a little overdone with vampire references absolutely everywhere but it is done more in a light hearted, fun way that I didn't find it as annoying as some other reviewers have.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Book Review #383 - Vampire Kisses (Vampire Kisses #1) by Ellen Schreiber


A new guy in town.
Rumours of vampires.
Dangerous first love.
This is where it all begins.

Raven lives in Dullsville, where nothing ever happens. Until now... The mansion on the top of Benson Hill has been empty and boarded up for years. But a new family has moved in. A family that never ventures out during the day. Who are these creepy people -- especially the handsome, dark, and elusive Alexander Sterling? Or rather, what are they? Could the town gossip actually be true? Are they vampires? Raven, who secretly covets a vampire kiss, both at the risk of her own mortality and Alexander's loving trust, is dying to uncover the truth.
My Rating: 3.5/5
I read this book before I started blogging and really did not like it at all. This time reading it, whilst I still did find a lot of flaws, I really did enjoy it.
What bothered me the most with this book is there are never any physical descriptions of characters. All descriptions of characters are clothing based.
This is a very light hearted vampire story. It would be a good read for vampire enthusiasts as there are a lot of references numerous vampire icons and culture.
The writing style was very smart and witty and that came across well in the characters.  
The ending is definitely enough for me to continue reading this series.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review #382 - Asylum by Madeleine Roux


For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.
My Rating: 4.5/5
This book has drawn a lot of comparisons with Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children which I have not read. 
I know there have been very mixed reviews about this book, people who had high expectations for it were let down. I only picked this book up from the library because of the cover and actually knew very little about it before reading so my expectations were non-existent.
This book wasn't exactly fast paced, in fact it was a little slow in plot development and got bogged down in detail at times, but there was also something about it that made it impossible for me to put it down.
I didn't find this book to be anywhere near as creepy or scary as I think was intended. The pictures included were a nice touch to the story and helped add to the creep factor.
The characters were all very different from one another, and at times didn't really gel together. Dan was the only character that had any kind of development. Jordan went missing for large portions of the book and I felt no connection between Dan and Abby.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Review #381 - The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

Book cover

Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child? Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.
My Rating: 4/5
I received this book for review from Chicken House for Scholastic Australia.
My favourite part of this book was the setting of the woods because it was hauntingly mysterious but also had a magical feel to it as well.
I liked the characters, especially Emily but thought that they took a back seat to the setting. This book seemed to be a setting dominated book, which is something I haven't encountered before.
I didn't really care for Damon, he was really erratic and a bit arrogant which is understandable as he wasn't really in the right frame of mind given everything that had happened to him over the last year.
Joe was a likeable character, he was the only person who believed in Emily from the very start and carried that belief until the very end.
Emily's mother was very unsupportive and was very dismissive of her throughout the book. It showed how sheltered Emily was to a degree of how much of her father's past she wasn't informed about.
There wasn't very much interaction between the two protagonists Emily and Damon yet I felt like their relationship grew progressively throughout and it seemed like there was friendship at the end.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Review #380 - Jane by April Lindner


Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.

But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?

An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.
My Rating: 4/5
This book has been on my radar for a while now but I put off reading it as I wanted to read Jane Eyre first.
This book stays incredibly loyal to the original story whilst also making it a believable story of the 21st century.
Although I would have preferred a proper portion of the book dedicated to Jane's childhood like the original, I did like the concept of the occasion flashbacks as they aided the development of the story and Jane.
The only negative thing I could say about this book is that because of its loyalty to the original there are no real surprises in the plot.
I would recommend this book to those who find it hard to read classics and hope that in reading this book they are inspired to read the original classic.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Book Review #379 - Head Over High Heels (Smitten) by Kate Forster


When Lyssa is scouted by a modelling agency, she’s more surprised than anyone. She’s a gangly girl from a migrant family, with out-of-control hair and the wrong postcode.

She’s not even interested in a modelling career. She wants to get into Medicine at university. Then she learns how much she could earn from a single photo shoot – enough to give her struggling family the help they need.

Lyssa’s parents don’t like her talking to boys, let alone posing provocatively for a photographer. And while her best friend Emily is a champion liar, Lyssa’s still not sure she’ll get away with it. She’s always played it safe.

But then she meets Dan at the modelling agency, and Dan is all kinds of amazing. Maybe amazing enough to convince Lyssa that she should play it dangerous for once...
My Rating: 3/5
I have read quite a few of the Smitten books now and they all have very interesting stories but the protagonists seem to all be very similar.
This book is set in Melbourne, and the city has a very present feeling throughout. The constant mention of the trams was the main reason for this.
Lyssa's race plays a huge role in this story. In fact she only gets her modelling job because of her unique look. However, I felt like the way her parents reacted to her new job was the more accurate portrayal of the differing cultures.
Andre was obviously one of the more interesting characters, although he seemed to go missing towards the end of the book. As did Lyssa's best friend Emily.
Dan was a character that I didn't really like. I just didn't get the whole attraction thing with him nor did I feel any connection between him and Lyssa.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Book Review #378 - Adorkable by Sarra Manning

Welcome to the dorkside. It's going to be a bumpy ride...

Jeane Smith's a blogger, a dreamer, a dare-to-dreamer, a jumble sale queen, CEO of her own lifestyle brand and has half a million followers on twitter.

Michael Lee's a star of school, stage and playing field. A golden boy in a Jack Wills hoodie.

They have nothing in common but a pair of cheating exes. So why can't they stop snogging?

My Rating: 4/5

This book is basically about a girl whose eccentric personality makes her an outcast at school but quite popular on social media and a guy that is idolised at school but could only be described as boring. They come together to make a very dysfunctional relationship.

The social media part was quite smart and modern. The two characters Jeane and Michael couldn't really be any different. She is eccentric and he is very sheltered.

I found Jeane annoying at times simply because she sometimes became overbearing and took things too far. I wanted to like Michael as much as I was supposed to but was unable to for some reason.

The story is told from alternating perspectives between the two. I liked this because it highlighted how different they really were.

This book contained more explicit material than I thought it would considering it is a YA title, so I wouldn't recommend it for younger readers.

Overall I liked how this book presented positive morals in standing up for who you are.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Book Review #377- The BFG by Roald Dahl


Luckily for Sophie, the BFG is nothing like his neighbours, whose favourite pastime is guzzling little children.
My Rating: 3/5
The more I read of Roald Dahl, the more I wish I had discovered him during my childhood. His books always embark on amazing adventures.
This book had a more English feel to it than the others of his I have read, and I don't just mean that because it included the Queen it was more of the way the characters spoke.
As a children's book it does have great morals. It shows that stereotypes aren't always accurate.
Sophie was actually a quite boring character, the BFG was the character with the most to offer. He had a great personality. I liked how he collected dreams and had his own type of language.

Book Review #376 - Coraline by Neil Gaiman


When Coraline explores her home, she steps through a door and into a house just like her own... except that it's different. It's a marvellous adventure until Coraline discovers that there's also another mother and another father in the house. They want Coraline to stay with them an be their little girl. They want to keep her forever!

Coraline must use all of her wits and every ounce of courage in order to save herself and return home.
My Rating: 4/5
This was the perfect book to read around Halloween as it had a certain creepiness about it.
I loved Coraline. She was a very independent and adventurous young girl and was my favourite thing about this book.
The house was the creepiest factor of all. It was almost a character itself. The buttons for eyes was an interesting inclusion.
This is my first Neil Gaiman book. I really enjoyed his writing style and so am looking forward to reading his other books particularly his YA titles.
I am now looking forward to watching the film adaptation of this book as I have heard nothing but good things about it.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Review #375 - Solid (Solid #1) by Shelley Workinger


Clio Kaid may be 17 and just beginning the last summer before her senior year, but her life is anything but typical.

She's just discovered she was genetically altered before birth and is now headed to a top-secret Army campus to explore the surprising results of the experiment.

Follow Clio and the other teens as they develop fantastic super-abilities, forge new friendships, and find love as they search for answers.
My Rating: 3/5
I received this book for review from the author. The author's Goodreads page can be found here.
I have a cat called Calliope. Calliope also happens to be the name of the protagonist in this book although she prefers to be called Clio. Clio was likeable enough, just not fleshed out enough.
The characters as a whole weren't very developed, but as the first book in a series this wasn't too troubling. The romance aspect seemed to come from nowhere as there was no build-up to it.
The plot was very interesting. I liked the whole concept of all the teenagers stuck in an army type camp and not really knowing what was going on.
This book is not very long and so it is a fast read but it does have a lot more depth than an average book of its size.

Book Review #374 - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


Despite the tumour-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
My Rating: 5/5
John Green is an author that I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a fan of but I have read and enjoyed the majority of his books. This would be my favourite of his so far.
Hazel and Augustus were two very interesting and memorable characters. Isaac was also another character that I really liked. Their whole challenge of cancer was very interesting and emotional.
I really liked how much Hazel's parents were included in the story. It shows how much a disease like cancer affects everyone, and also how differently people react to such a horrible time in their lives.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Follow Friday #63

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly event hosted by Parajunkee & Alison of Alison Can Read.

This weeks question:
What book are you embarrassed to admit you LOVED? (try to think beyond Twilight).
Probably the Diary of Wimpy Kid Series. It contains drawings and is targeted for children but I find them hilarious.