Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Review - Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick

Nothing Like You
By Lauren Strasnick
Simon Pulse, 224 pages
Published: October 20th 2009

"You think he's yours but he's not I thought.
"You think he's yours but really he's mine."

When Holly loses her virginity to Paul, a guy she barely knows, she assumes their encounter is a one-night stand. After all, Paul is too popular to even be speaking to Holly...and he happens to have a long-term girlfriend, Saskia. But ever since Holly's mom died six months ago, Holly has been numb to the world, and she's getting desperate to feel something, anything -- so when Paul keeps pursuing her, Holly relents. Paul's kisses are a welcome diversion...and it's nice to feel like the kind of girl that a guy like Paul would choose.

But things aren't so simple with Saskia around. Paul's real girlfriend is willowy and perfect...and nothing like Holly. To make matters worse, she and Holly are becoming friends. Suddenly the consequences of Holly's choices are all too real, and Holly stands to lose more than she ever realized she had.

- Goodreads description

1.5 out of 5

After reading other reviews on Goodreads, it appears that I may just be the only person in the world who didn't like this book.

If I was to describe this book in one word, it'd probably be predictable. That's not always a bad thing, but with this book, it wasn't just one thing that you could forsee, it was a lot.

I really wanted to like Nothing Like You, but I can't really feel much for it. Maybe I've been spoiled by the other contemporary YA books I've read recently, but I just found this rather...bland.

This had a lot of potential that I don't feel it lived up to. It could have been something amazing but sadly, for me, it wasn't. It felt like the plot kept getting stuck, so the author just went for the easiest (and unfortunately) most obvious way to move the story along. Also, the end felt like it was lacking in, well, everything to be honest. It didn't feel much like a resolution. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't expecting hearts, flowers & a chorus of birds, but it just seemed far too abrupt. I know it was to drive home the 'actions have consequences' and not everything works out riff, but it just felt like there should've been more after it.

I really can't seem to find anything redeeming to say about Holly. I'm sorry, but I really couldn't connect with her at all. She grated on me pretty much the entire book, I wanted to hit her so many times and tell her to get a grip! More than once I found myself thinking 'seriously?' when she was all 'oh woe is me' over Paul. She's possibly the only fictional female I dislike more than Bella Swan, and if you knew me, you'd know that that's something I never thought I'd see myself type. It wasn't until near the end of the book where I actually felt something for her. It wasn't until that point that she seemed to have any real depth, as opposed to just being a swoony naive little girl.
Describing Paul is quite easy to do. He's a douchebag, pure and simple. At first I thought he might actually be a little bit of a nice guy, but those illusions were quickly shattered. There's not really much else I can say without breaking into a long list of swear words and insults.
Saskia & Nils were actually better characters than Holly & Paul in my opinion. They seemed have more depth, and Nils in particular was just much more likeable.

The one thing I will commend Strasnick for in this book is her approach to the death of Holly's mum. It's never directly broached (we know she died of cancer, but her death is never actual put into any detail like it has been in other YA books) so all we see is the aftermath. Holly isn't treated with kid gloves all the time, like many other grieving characters have been in the past, and she hasn't either gone off the deep end with grief, or become a stoic zombie. She's in the void of confusion inbetween where you're never quite sure what's going to happen. I thought this was very well handled, and it was a refreshing change from the norm.

Sadly however, that wasn't enough to make up for the disappointment I felt with the rest of the book. An ok read if you want to kill time and don't want to think too much, but it won't be going on my 'to recommend' pile

Book Haul #2 a.k.a. why The Works is bad for my bank balance

All links lead to Goodreads

In My Mailbox is a weekly post hosted by The Story Siren. IMM is where a bunch of book lovers and bloggers show you what books/book related things we got over the week(s). I'll be posting mine (more or less) the first week of every month, although if I get something special, I may just have to share a lil bit more :)

This week's haul (technically the last two weeks)

Ok, so there are good things and bad things about where I work. The good things are that the centre I work in has a The Works concession. The bad thing is my sister works there & tells me what they're about to get in, so I tend to spend my lunch breaks (and shopping centre discount) on the latest stock they get in. Like this not so lil lot. The great thing? Because it's a discount book store, they're all mega cheap. As in hardbacks for less than a fiver, and paperbacks for 3 for £5.

Clockwork Angel (Hardback) - Cassandra Clare

Divergent - Veronica Roth
Room (Hardback) - Emma Donoghue
The Burying Place - Brian Freeman
The Bone Yard - Jefferson Bass
The Tide Knot - Helen Dunmore
Sepulchre (Signed Hardback) - Kate Mosse yes i really did get a signed book by my favourite author for £3.99 in The Works. *happy dance*
The Body in the Thames - Susanna Gregory
Breakfast at Darcy's - Ali McNamara
Scandal's Bride - Stephanie Laurens
Rosebush - Michele Jaffe
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
Bury Your Dead - Louise Penny
Alice's Girls - Julia Stoneham
Sherlock: A Study in Scarlet - Arthur Conan Doyle
Into The Wild - Jon Krakauer
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
The Haunting of James Hastings - Christoper Ransom
Working Stiff - Rachel Caine
City of Ashes - Cassandra Clare
Wither - Lauren DeStefano
Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth Gilbert

Yes, I did re-buy the Hunger Games trilogy, but come on, the new covers are so much prettier than the original ones (and at £7.99 for the boxset, you can't really go wrong can you)


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Review - Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

By Tabitha Suzuma
Definitions, 418 pages
Published: May 27th 2010

She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But... they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

- Goodreads description

4.5 out of 5

Let me start by saying that every copy of this book should come with a pack of tissues. I cried like a baby.

This won't be everyone's cup of tea. In fact, the subject matter will probably put the majority of people off it. Since I finished the book I've read a lot of other reviews to see what other people thought, and most of them tend to not actually be reviews, but comments on how they'll never read the book because of the relationship between the characters, or readers opinions on how 'sick' it and people who like it are. We all know there's an incest ick factor, and while it did make me squirm a bit at first, it was well handled, and written in a way that didn't glorify it. We know it's wrong and we know it can't end well (admittedly I didn't expect that kind of ending!). If these characters had been written as friends, or any other non-related acquaintantces I don't doubt that there'd be more rave reviews for it. But it also wouldn't be as poignant, or as heartbreaking.

There are no words to describe how phenomenal I think this book is. Given the subject matter, it could easily have come off as sordid and 'wrong', but it was brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed.

The characters are wonderfully written, you can't help but develop an emotional connection with them, and really care about what they are going through. Even the minor characters (while some make decisions with devastating consequences) you can't help but feel for.

The relationship between Maya & Lochan isn't normal. We know it's wrong, they know it's wrong, heck even the blurb tells us it's wrong, but despite all that you can't help being drawn in by this couple and wanting them to have the love they crave. And it is love. Not some weird obsession, but love. This is the forbidden love of all time. You can keep your Edwards & Bellas, this is so much more intense & evocative.

This tale of one of the biggest taboos out there has been written brilliantly. While we are reminded throughout that they are siblings, that's never seen as the most important thing. That title goes to the strength of their love, that eventhough it's impossible is maintained throughout. It's a testament to Suzuma's writing that as the reader you feel compelled to agree with them that they should be free to love eachother as they wish, as opposed to feeling that they should be stopped.

My only (tiny) peeve about this book is the ending. It was so heartbreaking, and I really wanted to see more about how it affected the other siblings. Yes, it is written from Maya's POV, but I didn't feel like the other brothers and sister were shown as being in the same place emotionally, like I would've expected them to be after that conclusion.

Seriously though folks, major tissue warning for the end of this book.

I think the important thing to take away from this book (or to take into consideration when wondering whether or not to read it) is the message it sends about intolerance. I don't think anyone will sit down after reading this and say 'yes, their love was 100% right, how dare people not see that'. Despite what I've put earlier in this review, that's not my opinion either. What I think however, is that anyone who reads this will agree that ultimately, intolerance was what destroyed this couple. Maybe if the other characters in the book had thought about what would and had happened before jumping straight to horror then things would have ended differently. That philosophy can be applied to pretty much any situation going. What I'm basically trying to say is tolerance is key, with a little more tolerance in the world, maybe there would be more shades of grey, and less pain and hatred. That's one of the big things I brought away from this book.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Review - Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

This is my first real review, so don't expect it to be brilliant. I certainly don't. Until I find my writing vibe this is pretty much how it's going to go, so bear with me :)

Going Too Far
By Jennifer Echols
Pocket Books/MTV Books, 245 pages
Published: March 17th 2009


All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far...and almost doesn't make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won't soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won't be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge -- and over....
- Goodreads Description

3.5 out of 5

Initially I had reservations about reading this, mainly because it seemed pretty obvious what would happen. Rebellious teen kid has to ride around with young attractive cop, sexual tension ensues. Yup, pretty much what happened.

I liked the characters to a certain extent. Meg is rebellious and has a thing for alcohol and douchebags. She does however have the right amount of nice girl left in her for her not to be annoying. I thought the parts with her & Tiffany were incredibly sweet and tender. As I read through this I did wonder a lot, what could have happened to make her turn out like this, and when you find out, I think it's as much a shock to the reader as it is the characters. Unlike a lot of other rebellious female characters I've read, I didn't want to smack her in the face a lot of the time, but I also didn't have any real emotions towards her until she tells John about her past. I loved the part near the end where she gets Tiffany to help her dye her hair. The way one seemingly insignificant thing had such meaning and symbolism was a vital part of Meg's character starting to grow up at last, and that one scene and the implications behind it were definitely my favorite part of the book.

Now John. He's a character that confuses me. When we're first introduced to him, we're given the impression that he's an older guy, Meg definitely believed he was at first. When it's revealed he's not, it wasn't really that much of a shock (after what I'd gleaned from other reviews, I'd already gathered that this was meant to have a teenaged romance in it) but when I read his backstory some of it was surprising. His connection to the bridge was a little predictable in my opinion, given how (do I really want to use the word obsessed? Yes, yes I do) obsessed he is over it, but I get why his reactions to what happens there with Meg are so strong. He definitely grew on me as the book progressed, much more than Meg did.

As a side note, is it really bad that I liked the supporting characters of Tiffany & Will much more than I liked Meg & John. I just felt that their characters (while being very similar to each other in a lot of ways) were more well rounded, and more real than Meg & John, eventhough we hardly saw them.


I didn't love this book. I liked it, plain & simple. While I didn't dislike it, there was nothing outstanding about it, nothing that would make me say to someone else 'you have to read this book, right now'. There were also a few things that I had issues with:
1) John's age. Am I the only person who thought he was really young for a cop? I know you get young police officers, but this young? Maybe someone who is a police officer/knows someone who is can clarify the age limit for me. This was one of those niggling little things that bugged me all the way through reading this. If he'd been a couple of years older I probably wouldn't have any issues with it, but like I've said, it seems a really young age for the job in my opinion.
2) The coupling. Five days to fall in love? It all happened way too quickly for me, especially for two people (one of whom for definite) never looked twice at each other before. It's teen fiction so I know fast falling is kind of the norm, and I'm being picky, but it did annoy me a little that they're expressing their love for each other so quickly.
3) The ending. I don't usually have issues with the endings of YA books. There's usually a romance element in all of them, and most of them have happy endings. This happy ending was far too rushed for my liking. Yes the book had to end, but I thought everything was resolved a little too fast. One minute they're arguing, the next it's shiny happy people all over...

(Rather belated) 100+ Book Challenge reading list

So as I've already said, I am a bad, bad blogger, shamefully neglectful of my little portion of webspace. NO MORE! From now on I promise to be a good blogger and make regular posts, as often as I can.

As my first proper book related post, I'm aware that this should've been posted ages ago, given that I started this challednge in January and it's now nearly April.
I was excited when I started this challenge, mainly because it meant I might actually sit down and read properly for the first time in a while. I'm happy to say that it's working :)

If you're interesting in joining Book Chick City's reading challenge (just one of many) then click the lil icon up top and it'll take you to everything you need to know

Here be my initial list. It will definitely change over the months. As it is, I've read 31 books so far this year - I think maybe 10 of them (if that) are actually on this list.

1. Angel - L.A. Weatherly
2. The Duff - Kody Keplinger
3. Crave - Melissa Darnell
4. Fever - Amy Meredith
5. Betrayal - Amy Meredith
6. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
7. Leaving Paradies - Simone Elkeles
8. Return to Paradies - Simone Elkeles
9. Halo - Alexandra Adornetto
10. Hades - Alexandra Adornetto
11. The Hollow - Jessica Verday
12. My Soul to Take - Rachel Vincent
13. Atlantis - David Gibbins
14. My Soul to Save - Rachel Vincent
15. Someone Else's Life - Katie Dale
16. City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
17. Elixer - Hilary Duff
18. Percy Jackson & the Last Olympian - Rick Riordan
19. Die For Me - Amy Plum
20. I Am Number Four - Pittacus Lore
21. A Witch in Winter - Ruth Warburton
22. Torn - Cat Clarke
23. Rosebush - Michele Jaffe
24. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You - Ally Carter
25. Working Stiff - Rachel Caine
26. Forsaken: The Demon Trapper's Daughter - Jana Oliver
27. I Capture he Castle - Dodie Smith
28. A Great & Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
29. Switched - Amanda Hocking
30. Looking For Alaska - John Green
31. The Angel Experiment - James Patterson
32. The Body Finder - Kimberley Derting
33. Paranormalcy - Kiersten White
34. Haunting Violet - Alyxandra Harvey
35. Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen
36. Angel Fire - L.A. Weatherly
37. The Soloist - Steve Lopez
38. Slumdog Millionaire - Vikas Swarup
39. One Day - David Nichols
40. Fated - Sarah Alderson
41. Hunting Lila - Sarah Alderson (re-read)
42. Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist
43. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
44. Trainspotting - Irvine Welsh
45. On Beauty - Zadie Smith
46. Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders - Gyles Brandreth
47. The Accidental Time Traveller - Sharon Griffiths
48. I'll Be There For You - Louise Candlish
49. The Almost Moon - Alice Sebold
50. The Child In Time - Ian McKewan
51. Letters From Home - Kristina McMorris
52. Veronika Decides to Die - Paulo Coelho
53. Nocturnes - Kazuo Ishiguro
54. Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
55. The Thief Lord - Cornelia Funke
56. Salem Falls - Jodi Picoult
57. Case Histories - Kate Atkinson
58. A Gathering Light - Jennifer Donnelly
59. The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith
60. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
61. Matched - Ally Condie
62. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
63. You Are ext - Katie Lief
64. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
65. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
66. How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff
67. Winter In Madrid - C.J. Samson
68. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
69. The Woman He Loved Before - Dorothy Koomson
70. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
71. Catch Me If You Can - Frank W. Abagnale
72. The Princess Bride - William Goldman
73. Person Demons - Lisa Desroshers
74. Things We Knew Were True - Nicci Gerrard
75. You Against Me - Jenny Downham
76. Divergent - Veronica Roth
77. Finding Sky - Joss Stirling
78. Nevermore - Kelly Creagh
79. Strange Angels & Betrayals Omnibus - Lili St. Crow
80. Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi
81. Unearthly - Cynthia Hand
82. Dark Visions - L.J. Smith
83. Night World Volume One - L.J. Smith
84. The Secret Circle Volume One - L.J. Smith
85. The Vampire Diaries Volume One - L.J. Smith
86. Forget You - Jennifer Echols
87. Private - Kate Brian
88. The Girl With the Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier
89. The Beach - Alex Garland
90. Stray - Rachel Vincent
91. Jane Austen Book Club - Karen Joy Fowler
92. My Name Is Memory - Ann Brashares
93. The Vampire Lestat - Ann Rice
94. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
95. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
96. Hush Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick
97. The Descendants - Kaui Hart Hemmings
98. The Lucky One - Nicholas Sparks (re-read)
99. Dear John - Nicholas Sparks
100. Room - Emma Donoghue

If anyone else is reading/has read/plans to read any of the ones I've listed, I'd love to hear what you think of them, so drop me a comment :)


May the Odds Be Never in Your Favour

Ok, not strictly speaking a post about a book, but it is related, so I'm allowing myself to get away with it, mwha!

This was going to be a rather long, convoluted post about The Hunger Games movie, how I thought it compared to the book, what was different etc......but I currently have a hyperactive Springer Spaniel jumping on my feet trying to get me to play with him. He says hi.

Soooooooooo instead, I'm just going to post a few of my main thoughts about it. I'm going to see it again next week (mainly due to the fact that I spent most of the advanced screening fuming about a certain line that movie Gale didn't say) So I'll update/post something new after that which should be a bit more detailed.

Here goes......

I've heard massive amounts of complaints about how the film was shot, the use of jump cuts, handheld cameras & jerky steadicams as opposed stationary tripods and tracks. As a former film student, I enjoyed the cinematography (what can I say, my inner nerd rejoiced), I think it was cleverly done, emulating how the cameras in the arena would've moved, and the jump cuts imitating Katniss' confusion from the Tracker Jacker poison.

A lot of the actors (in my humble opinion) didn't really look how I expected them to, but played the characters pretty much EXACTLY how I pictured them, especially Cinna. In hindsight, Lenny Kravitz & Wes Bentley were the perfect castings as Cinna & Seneca! (on a sidenote Seneca Crane's Beard! That's gotta be worth a few months of Trending Topics alone!)

My only real (and rather infuriating) complaints are with regards to the removal of 2 pieces of dialogue: Gale's "Katniss, remember I..." line as he says goodbye had our whole entire group shouting at the cinema screen, especially as it was replaced by the (rather pathetic in my opinion) line "I'll see you soon". I was also a little annoyed and disappointed that they cut out the conversation between Katniss & Peeta on the train home about how much of what happened in the arena was real & how much was acting. For me they were both really important parts of the series.
I don't know, it just kind of felt that they were downplaying the Katniss/Gale relationship and amping up the 'reality' of Katniss/Peeta far too early, just because we know how it's going to end. Not a happy bunny about those parts :S

Nic, psycho dog & my now sore foot

In My Mailbox a.k.a. Book Haul Numero Uno

All links lead to Goodreads :)

Ok, so I've seen lots of bloggers doing In My Mailbox, which was started by The Story Siren but given that (with the exception of payday Amazon sprees) I tend to buy all my books in shops as opposed to online, I'll be calling mine Book Haul, savvy? (Excuse me, I've just been watching PoTC, I think Jack's taking control right now)

I'll try and keep the posts to the first or second week of each month, as this is when I have a habit of splurging, so keep an eye out then for posts. If anyone else out there has an IMM or similar post, drop me a comment on a Book Haul post so I can come nosey :)

This Weeks Book Haul

This weeks book haul is rather small, but a hunt in my local RSPCA & British Heart Foundation shops had me whipping out my purse faster than Jack Sparrow can pick pockets. Ahem, I'll stop now....

Night World Volume One - L. J. Smith
Virals - Kathy Reichs
The Beach - Alex Garland
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You - Ally Carter
Cross My Heart & Hope To Spy - Ally Carter
Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist
Trainspotting - Irvine Welsh
Case Histories - Kate Atkinson

Looking forward to reading these soon!
Don't forget to check your local charity shops for bargain buys, my local ones had full sets of the Morganville Vampires & House of Night Books, amazing what you can find if you have an hour to spare rooting!


Bad, Bad Blogger.....

I have been a very bad blogger :(

Due to entering the world of work (at long last!) I haven't been a regular blogger. Oh who am I kidding, I haven't blogged AT ALL! I didn't even post about my disgust hate anger disappoinment at Gale's "Katniss, remember I..." and Peeta & Katniss' discussion on the train going back to District 12 being cut from The Hunger Games movie! (I did however love every other part of the film, especially Cinna, Haymitch & Effie!)

So from now on I'll be a more dedicated blogger/reviewer, for you all. All being a relative term I guess given that I haven't been posting and therefore only have one follower......HAI SAM!

Given that I'm currently 31 books into my reading challenge I think it's probably about time I posted my 100 Book Challenge list. That'll be going up later now that my dinner/night out plans are no more.

That's all (for now) folks!

(a very sorry and sulking blogger)

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Jessica Rules the Dark Side - Eleusinian Mysteries giveaway

Check out Brodie's interview & giveaway post here for the brilliant Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

When Jessica Packwood found out she was a Romanian vampire princess, she had the shock of her teenage life.  Turns out that was the easy part.  Now, married to Prince Lucius Vladescu, she has to claim her throne and convince a vampire nation she’s fit to be their queen.  But Jess can’t even order a decent meal from her castle’s Romanian staff, let alone deal with devious undead subjects who would love to see her fail.

And when Lucius is accused of murdering a vampire Elder and imprisoned without the blood he needs, Jessica finds herself alone, fighting for both their survivals.  Desperate to clear her husband’s name and win his release, Jess enlists the help of her best friend Mindy Stankowicz and Lucius’s mysterious Italian cousin, Raniero Lovatu.  But both of them are keeping some dark secrets.  Can Jess figure out who to trust – and how to  rise to power – before she loses everything, including the vampire she loves?

Full of romance, mystery, and danger, the highly anticipated sequel to Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side shows that sometimes a princess has to earn her “happily ever after” – with a sharpened stake in hand.

 Also, make sure you check out the first book in this series Jessica's Guide to Dating the Dark Side

Friday, 6 January 2012

100 Book Challenge

I’m planning on participating in the Book Chick City 100+ Books in a Year Reading Challenge.

I’m not entirely sure how far into the 100 I’ll actually get, but I thought I’d give it a shot seeing as how I currently have an entire bookcase of unread books.

I managed to read quite a lot last year, and seeing as how 100 books a year is less than 2 a week, I think I might be able to manage it! Wish me luck!


Greetings Earthlings!

So this is my first blogger post (clearly). I've had tumblr for a while, but decided that here might be a lil bit better. If you fancy reading it, then welcome new friends! Hopefully you'll like what I have to say, or at least find it a little interesting!  :)