Thursday, 28 January 2016

Review- The Art of Lainey (Paula Stokes)

The Art of Lainey


Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few "dates", it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What's a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you're meant to be with if you're still figuring out the person you're meant to be?    

My Review 

When Lainey is dumped unceremoniously in the middle of her workplace, she sees all her dreams of the perfect year ahead with the perfect boyfriend all fade away.

So using Sun Tzu’s Art of War she devises a plan to win him back. First step, is getting on a level playing field. Since he’s moved on to a new girl so quickly Lainey’s only option is to find herself a new guy to make him jealous. Who better to help with her war plans than the misfit fry cook, at her workplace, who’s also going through a break up?

When Lainey first trys to employ Micah into her ranks he has trepidations, after all they have nothing in common. But the possibility of winning back his own ex has him agreeing. But of course with all war plans there have to be some boundaries and rules…

- Number one: no telling anyone else about the plan.
- Two: no touching.
Three: absolutely no kissing

Of course, rules are meant to be broken.

Lainey, while sometimes vain and a bit clueless grows throughout the book.  A lot of the book she is hung up on Jason, and believes that he has made her the beautiful, popular girl she is today. Without him, her world is bound to fall apart and she’ll go back to the nerdy geek of her middle-school days. Lainey’s ability to place her self-importance as determined by those around her, is something that many teenagers will be able to relate to. 

Micah, was every bit the male lead I wanted him to be. While the opposite of blonde, tanned and beach-ready Lainey, with his Mohawk, tattoos and ripped clothing. His down to earth nature is everything she needs to help her realise who she wants to be. 

Incorporating the use of 'The Art of War' to spice up the old trope of 'girl trying to back her boyfriend' took this book to the next level and gave it a unique spin. The characters were well fleshed out and easily likeable, even if Lainey’s talent of being completely oblivious at times was frustrating as a reader.

I would highly suggest giving this one a go, if you want a funny, smart summer read, with a dose of some growing up and learning who you are and what truly matters thrown in.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Review- The Accident Season (Moira Fowley-Doyle)

The Accident Season


It's the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara's life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara's family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items - but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?           

My Review 

Every October the ‘Accident Season’ arrives and with it brings, bruises, scrapes, broken bones and sometimes even death. When Cara’s best friend Bea, warns her via a Tarot reading that this Season will be the worse, Cara already has other concerns on her mind. A fellow class mate Elsie has gone missing and none seems to know where she is, but Cara is determined to unravel the mystery, but she may end up uncovering more secrets than she expects. 

This book was not what I was expecting, but it also didn't disappoint. There was definitely a WTF did I just read look on my face after finishing. 

It’s hard to find a way of describing the book, as the author does a wonderful job of playing with the boundaries of realism to the point where you're often wondering if things actually do exist or if it’s just the characters imagination.

There were some awesomely creepy scenes that despite a lack of actual blood and gore gave me shivers merely due to the amazing imagery the author provided with her words. The characters were interesting. While they don't necessarily develop much throughout the story, they do have their own tales of guilt, shame and love that add to the eerie, sadness and melancholy of the story. The story itself is shrouded in mystery and intrigue, and with its stunningly hypnotic prose it kept me turning the pages all the way through.

My only grievance is at times I felt the idea of the ‘accident season’ was just an afterthought added into the writing. There was an explanation as to what it was, and hints at the devastating effects of disasters during the previous ‘accident seasons’.  However the story veered off near the middle with only intermittent reference to the current accident season, with its focus diversifying on to other mysteries. For the most part though everything was wrapped up in the end. Although you’re likely to have some lingering questions still, but to have answered them would have taken away the eerie, magical qualities of the story and writing.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Review- Since You've Been Gone (Morgan Matson)

Since You've Been Gone


It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um... 

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she’ll find?
Go skinny-dipping? Wait...what?              

My Review 

Emily has an amazing summer planned ahead for her and her best friend Sloane. They’re going to get the perfect summer job where they can chat all day, spend weekends road-tripping and of course summer romances for each of them.

But when Sloane and her family suddenly disappear, Emily is thrown into a whirlwind of hopelessness. Being the quite, shy, introvert she is, Sloane is her only connection to the social world and without her, her perfect summer plans come crashing down around her.

Then a letter shows up… a list of 13 tasks that might just lead her back to Sloane.

There is just something about Emily that is easy to connect with. Like Emily, I am a shy, introvert with difficulty stepping outside of my comfort zone. So I could empathise with the difficulty of facing novel situations on your own, and the struggle of overcoming the realisation that you don’t have someone to lean on anymore.

I had kissed someone tonight, which I certainly had not been expecting to do...but for a moment, it had made me feel brave.
And as I tilted my head back to look at the stars, I began to really understand, for the first time, just why Sloane sent me the list..
- Morgan Matson (Since you've Been Gone)

The supporting characters were just as delightful. Frank Porter, an unlikely potential friend for Emily, Class President, Frog Saving Environmentalist and complete Brainiac. Collins, his best friend and Dawn. Even the parents were given their own agenda’s, so while they weren’t actively involved at this particular time, which left a lot of freedom to complete her list, they weren’t absent or non-existent, as frequently seen in YA contemporaries.

Morgan Matson, has such a crisp, clear-cut way of writing. Her attention to detail is magnificent. The little aspects she adds to her characters and their lives add a sense of realism that is sometimes hard to come by in YA today. For example I loved that, Emily’s car has a sunroof with no top, and that her gas tank always reads at half a tank no matter how much gas is left, and is covered in bumper stickers from places she’s never been.

Trivial details while played down in the writing, actually play important roles later in the story. But the author doesn’t treat her audience like they’re mindless and make them obvious clues to the puzzle that we are pleasantly putting together. We’re left oblivious to their importance, until a second before it all falls into place.

While reading this novel, it just so happened to be New Year’s Eve, and I was inspired to fulfill my own list for the evening, which definitely had some activities out of my bubble of security, including doing a body shot off a stripper. And then some easier tasks like, walking home with friends from town drunk at 3am along the waterfront. While my list was a little more mature than Emily’s in some respects, there is one thing that we both shared in common... The feeling of accomplishing something so far out of your comfort zone. That kind of euphoria is addictive.

That is what this novel boils down to, learning to grow and develop by doing things you’ve never considered doing before. By pushing yourself into new roles, you can encounter so many more possibilities you didn’t think were possible.

This was the perfect inspirational novel to break in the New Year with!

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Review- Date with a Rockstar (Sarah Gagnon)

Date with a Rockstar


Monet isn't just another lust-struck teenager trying to win the heart of Rock God Jeremy Bane--she needs the prize money from his new reality show to cure her illness. Monet has Fluxem, a contagious disease that's spread through saliva. It's completely curable if you have enough money, which she and her single mother don't. Now that she's on the show, Monet has to work harder to keep her Fluxem hidden. She only has to keep the secret long enough to woo Jeremy Bane so he picks her as the winner. She doesn't even care about the love part; the prize alone will change her life. 

But the real Jeremy Bane is nothing like she imagined. Monet finds herself fighting against feelings that make her want to give in to her attraction and Jeremy's attempts for a kiss. The further she goes in the competition, the more impossible it becomes to resist him--and when the producers turn the tables and start digging up dirt on the contestants, Monet fears her secret will be revealed before she's ready and ruin everything. The only way to win Jeremy's heart is to tell him the truth, but confessing her disease could cost her the competition, the prize money, and him.      

My Review 

Best way to describe this book- The Bachelor for a post-apocalyptic world.

Monet our main female protagonist is searching to cure herself of the disease Fluxem. Unfortunately, the cure is outrageously priced and even with her mum working two jobs, it’s unlikely that they’ll save up enough before it eventually kills her. Therefore the only logical idea is to enter a competition to win the heart of the dreamy musician Jeremy Bane, with the $20,000 prize money as her goal. But of course with most teenage girls, emotions get in the way and her hidden secrets may just come out and cost her more than the prize money.

The Bachelor style set up is definitely something unique which I have yet to encounter in any other books I’ve read. It definitely makes for an interesting and girl-drama fueled read, much like the TV show.

The Dystopian setting was interesting, and it added somewhat to Monet’s story-line, with her disease etc. But the world building was lacking slightly. There were elements that were incorporated that fit the idea of a post-apocalyptic world. For example embedded chips in peoples wrists which acted as eftpos/credit cards. But besides these minor details there was a lack of any real explanation as to why the world had become the way it was.

The main characters were easy enough to like, but didn’t really break the mould of your typical YA leads. The supporting characters also tended to suffer from the same lack of uniqueness. Every cliché was represented in the other contestants, there were the rich upper-class girls who thought they were better than everyone else, the slightly more *ahem* forward girl, and the girls who suffered from insecurities. Although while the characters were not unique, the story did provide for a stimulating and drama fuelled read that kept me turning the pages to find out how it ends.

Overall, a different read with a unique twist on the dating show idea. 

My rating: 3/5

Monday, 4 January 2016

The Victorious and The Vanquished (1)

So after going through my most anticipated releases of 2016 and adding them to a Goodreads shelf, I discovered that my current TBR is 988 books!! 988…. I mean that number is ridiculous. Especially when on average I only read about 50 books per year, and on average I’m adding approximately 110 new books onto the list per annum. My TBR’s exponential growth is getting a little daunting. So I decided for the New Year I would start a new feature.

Using a random number generator to generate numbers which correlate to my TBR pile on Goodreads. I locate the book with that number and then contemplated whether the book still holds my interest after all this time….if not…So long and farewell. 

Each month I will be posting a culling with 'The Victorious' -those books who live to see another day and 'The Vanquished'- those which no longer hold the same interest they once did. A link will be added if people wish to follow suit and do some culling of their own.


The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon, #2) Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) The Truth About Forever


Caged in Darkness (Caged, #1) Cracked Up to Be

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Challenging myself in 2016

Although I didn't achieve quite what I wanted out of my 2015 challenges. I've decided to go ahead and join up some challenges for 2016. Firstly I've extended my Goodreads challenge from 50 books to 75 this year, which is quite a step up for me. However it is one of my resolutions to make more time for reading and to spend less time on meaningless activities, which I ultimately derive less fulfillment from. For example Facebook and other social media and the internet in general, which I can spend hours on and literally manage to achieve nothing. 

I've also signed up for a few other challenges to work towards this year, which can be found below.

Flights Of Fantasy 2016

My Goal: 10 Books

I had good fun with this challenge last year and it was one of the few I actually completed, so I'm going for the same goal again this year.

Completed: 0/10

2016 Audiobook Challenge

My Goal: 5 Books

I've never really gotten into audiobooks before, but I have a much longer commute this year so audiobooks will be a great way to keep entertained when stuck in traffic. 

Completed: 0/5

2016 TBR Pile Challenge

My Goal: 20 Books

There are a lot of 2014 and 2015 releases that I have on  backlog, which I really want to get to this year. If I can cross just 20 off my list I'll be stoked!

Completed: 0/10

What challenges are you participating in for 2016? 

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