Thursday 31 October 2013

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: September 10th 2013
Publication date: St. Martin's Griffin
My rating: 4.5 stars

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . . But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

To be honest I really wasn’t really sure about picking up Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I read Rowell’s Eleanor & Park earlier this year, and whilst I knew everyone around me loved it, I was left slightly disappointed. But despite this I decided to risk it with Rowell’s Fangirl, and I’m actually glad that I did.

Cath and her twin sister Wren have moved away to college, Cath has grown up her whole life with her sister beside her and so doesn’t expect college to be any more different. But Wren has other ideas, she decides it’s time for them to live apart and do things on her own. When you first meet Cath you can tell she’s lived in the shadows of her sister, as soon as she moves into her dorm, she cocoons into herself, not really getting to know her roommate Reagan. She doesn’t even venture out of her room unless to go to class. She doesn’t even know where the dining hall is until a few weeks into term and this is rather reluctantly because Reagan and her friend Levi think she has an eating disorder (all Cath has been doing since she came is been bingeing on protein bars). Cath was a character I could easily relate to, I never liked venturing out to try something new, I’m always anxious of what others might think or I might be doing something wrong. At home and with people I know I have the biggest mouth ever, but in any new situation, you won’t hear a squeak out of me. So I understood Cath being anxious about studying away from home, she had to start all over again, because she didn’t even have Wren by her side either.

I was team Cath from the very first page, however at times I did feel like shaking some sense into her. It would take Cath forever to realise that she had something good going for her, seriously this guy was the sweetest guy ever but she was constantly pushing him away. Like when he was carrying her dirty laundry, which I thought was a really nice gesture, she just made a huge deal out of it. I do think this was because of the big insecurity Cath had about getting close to somebody, but also because of what happened early on. But when a guy, proves time and time again that he cares about you, just let him in. That was my only real problem that I had with Cath. Whereas Wren was just a completely different story.

I really disliked Wren, I know she just wanted to be her own person, for the last 18 years it had always been Cath and Wren, but did she have to be a real cow about it? It was obvious that Cath was suffering from anxiety issues, but she kept constantly brushing her off, even when Cath came to search for her in a bar completely out of her comfort zone. I actually even liked it when Cath and Wren weren’t talking because it gave Cath the opportunity to get to know other people around her such as Levi and Reagan.

Levi and Reagan were just two of the best characters of this book. They really did bring alive this story especially Levi. At the beginning I wasn’t really sure of him, but he just grew on me with his bubbly personality, his huge hair and his patience he showed for Cath. And he was there for her when things fell apart. Which guy would drive a girl home a few hundred miles in the worst snowy weather ever and the roads were the worst to drive on? That would be Levi; he would also give her the time and space when she was writing her fan fiction. Levi was a real surprise of Fangirl, that I honestly wouldn’t mind him bringing me a gingerbread latte!

Fangirl was a book which completely took me by surprise; Rowell did a fantastic job of keeping me entertained with surly characters such as Reagan and bubby energetic characters such as Levi. Also she did a wonderful job of focusing on a lot of tough issues that Cath had to go through, such as family break ups, break downs and fallings out. But she was also able to bring a lot of fun and hilarious moments that easily brightened up a tense situation. The only thing I didn’t however care about was Simon Snow aspect, I was interested in reading about Cath’s obsession with Fan Fiction and how she was getting on with writing it, but the long passages of Simon Snow extracts I didn’t care for. That’s my only gripe, other than that Fangirl was a wonderful story which dealt with growth, maturity and finding your place in a beautiful way.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Rachel's Poll Winner: Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor
Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication date: May 4th 2009
My rating: 4.5 stars

It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.

This is my story.

A letter from nowhere.

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?

The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist - almost.

I’ve wanted to read Stolen for a long time.  Sadly, it was pushed to the side so many times, but I’m glad I finally picked it up because it was a powerful and gripping read.  All my nerves and emotions felt stretched tight while reading this, the tension high.  I felt the zing of excitement as I turned the pages, both hoping for things to turn out one way and dreading if they did, as well. 

Sixteen year old Gemma is drugged and kidnapped from an airport and taken to the endless desert in the Australian Outback.  She’s not familiar with the land and it is brutal and remote which leaves little chance for escape.  Ty, her captor is feels he’s taken her from her materialistic, self-centered parents, to rescue her from the inevitable life she’ll be shoved into if she stays. He wants company in his remote desert “paradise” and somehow he thinks Gemma is perfect for that life,…perfect for him. 

Unfortunately for Ty, Gemma is not at all happy to be taken forcibly from her parents, her life, and civilization, but Ty won’t let her go.  He thinks time will change her mind.

"How long will you keep me?" I asked. You shrugged. "Forever, of course."


There’s something profoundly flattering about another person being obsessed with you.  Well, in theory, anyways.  In real life it is disturbing.  

I was surprised to find that Ty was not overly romanticized, and that I really didn’t like him in the beginning.  He actually creeped me the heck out!  He was good looking, mesmerizing to Gemma when she first meets him, and that’s why he was able to kidnap her.

No one had ever looked at me like that before, with that kind of intensity. It unsettled me, surprised me, I guess.  Those blue, blue eyes, icy blue, looking back at me as if I could warm them up. They’re pretty powerful, you know, those eyes, pretty beautiful, too.

But her initial feelings are wiped out when she comes to and discovers her situation.  Ty was clearly unstable and socially stunted, but as I continued to read, my feelings softened toward him, much like Gemma’s did, so that we were both confused:

“A part of me understood why you’d done it, too.  And it’s hard to hate someone once you understand them.”

This story felt very intimate as it was told in the second person narrative; Gemma is speaking to Ty, but I felt like the story was being told directly to me.  After finishing Stolen, I have feelings of melancholy and I’m seriously conflicted.  I know what’s right and what should’ve happened.  Did I want it to end like that?  Yes, no,…maybe. *sigh* The story was jarring and left my emotions all over the place.  

Lucy Christopher’s debut novel was captivating, heart wrenching, confusing, with an underlying sexual tension that is palpable.  I read on Ms. Christopher’s website that she may write a sequel to Stolen. I hope she does as I would love to catch up with Ty and Gemma and tie up loose ends. If someone has any news on that, I’d love to know!

I want to thank the readers who picked this out of the poll we put up for last month’s recap!  It probably would still be sitting on my shelf, unread, otherwise.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Review: Fractured (Guards of the Shadowlands #2) by Sarah Fine

Fractured (Guards of the Shadowlands #2) by Sarah Fine
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication date: October 29th 2013.
My rating: 5 stars 

In the week since Lela returned to Rhode Island as Captain of the Guard with Malachi as her second in command, local news has been dominated by chilling sightings of human-like creatures running on all fours. Lela knows there’s only one explanation: the Mazikin have arrived in the land of the living. Needing to maintain the appearance of a normal life for her foster mother, her probation officer, and her classmates, Lela returns to Warwick High along with Malachi. At night they secretly hunt for the Mazikin nest. To assist, two new Guards from very different parts of the Shadowlands are assigned to Lela’s unit, including the bad boy Jim, who repeatedly challenges Lela's authority. Lela struggles to keep all her Guards on the right side of the law, but their mistakes come at a terrible cost. As one painful revelation follows another and the Mazikin start targeting those closest to her, Lela finds herself more vulnerable than she’s ever been, wanting a future more than she ever has. With an enemy determined to separate soul from body, one question remains: how much is she willing to sacrifice to protect those she loves?

My last 5 star rating for a book was way back in September, I know that doesn’t seem that long ago, but I was in dire need for something to wow me. My reading slump was getting really bad (the occasional 4 stars were keeping me going) but I was seriously considering taking a break from reading (something which I haven’t done in like two years) but then Fractured came along and simply put I was blown away.

Sanctum was a book I picked up one weekend on a whim, I wanted to see what all the hype was about and I was basically sucked into this truly unbelievable world, for my three reading days. So when Fractured came around, I was excited to dive back in, but lately a lot of the follow up books I had been reading had been leaving me disappointing, so honestly I went into Fractured with my expectations in check. And let me tell you for these four days when I read this book, all I did was read, breath, and smell it. You know when you have to make every reading second count that was me. And I couldn’t have picked up Fractured at a worse time, work was crazy, my sister was on my case about staying up to date with New Girl and my other sister was on half term break so was constantly bored and wanted to do something as soon I was home. So I found myself squeezing reading every page whenever I could, honestly if I could have read and walked to work I would have done that.

Fractured was a book which ripped my heart to shreds, Fine was clever in providing us with occasional glimmers of hope, but only to snatch them away from you in a blink of an eye. With Malachi and Lela in the real world you would think that things would have been easier for them, but no Mazikin were on the loose once more and to me they seemed clever than ever. Lela as Captain of the Guard was given two members to her team; Jim and Henry. Lela thought she was fighting a losing battle, Jim didn’t even know what a Mazikin was and how did Lela expect to be Captain and keep everyone in check when she had the most knowledgeable individual who would have done a much greater job than her; Malachi as her lieutenant? I really appreciated Fine’s change of scenery, compared to the dark and foreboding surroundings of the dark city; it was fun watching Lela and Malachi have to cope with making friends and high school alongside battling with Mazikin. Also after having lost her closest friend in Nadia, I enjoyed Lela getting to know other people from her school. By the end of this book I had become firmly attached to this group of friends, it was great how Lela could put her differences aside and make the time and effort to let these people into her life.

With the way things went down, I was left really conflicted at times, as how I wanted thins to go. I always firmly believed that Malachi would hold a strong place in my heart, but at times I was nearly swayed to another *shock horror*. Malachi once more was a formidable force to be reckoned with, he was loyal to his Captain Lela, he was fitting in well at school (of course he had all of the girls a flutter over him). But because of the decision he made, his relationship with Lela really changed and honestly I didn’t like the direction it went at all. Highlight to view spoiler.It was clear that both Malachi and Lela were hurting from Malachi’s decision to only be her Lieutenant and nothing more, my heart was breaking too, and just watching them act like they were happy with the decision when they clearly weren’t was too much for me. So that was one of the reasons I let Ian in, like Lela I needed someone to comfort me over the heartache I had been suffering. And Ian, he was the perfect temporary replacement, he was considerate, super sweet; how he ate so much food when he was nervous and he defended Lela against the Mazikin when he didn’t know what was going on. Ian grew on me so much, that I knew Lela would have to choose one person and I knew in my heart who that person would be, but I couldn’t bear for one of these fantastic characters to get hurt.

Fine was just brilliant of toying with my heart; on top of that I had to experience several heart palpitations over the numerous tense scenes. We never knew when the Mazikin were planning an attack or what they were up to. It’s like being in this completely different world didn’t make them afraid of anything. It was scary not knowing who they could change when they wanted to. So my poor heart had it all to deal with in Fractured.

For some reason I actually assumed that this series was a duology, so there was me all expecting this series to be wrapped up nicely, you know me I don’t always appreciate my happily ever after’s, but never have I ever wanted a happily ever after as much as I did with Fractured. So you can imagine how I was feeling when at 95% it didn’t look like things were going to wrap up nicely and the dread in my stomach started to get worse. The ending to Fractured was just something I didn’t expect at all; the wait for the final book will just be a killer.

Fractured by far is one of the best follow up books I have read this year. If like me you’re looking for something to knock your socks off, then this is the book to give a go. Fine introduces a wonderful set of secondary characters which will leave you clutching your heart, a great mix of nonstop action which left my nails bitten to the core and some poignant scenes which will just rip away at that tiny piece of heart you have left. This is one series not to be missed. 

Monday 28 October 2013

Review: Seducing the Enemy by Noelle Adams

Seducing the Enemy
Seducing the Enemy by Noelle Adams
Publisher: Entangled: Indulgence
Publication date: October 14th 2013
My rating: 4 stars


After being injured in a tragic accident as a child, Marietta Edwards has lived a sheltered life. Finally recovered, she wants to indulge in pleasures that are entirely new to her, so she begins by seducing a sexy, mysterious stranger. Only after their one-night stand does she learn their families have been embroiled in a fifteen-year legal battle and the man she’s given herself to is her worst enemy.

The heir to a vast fortune, Harrison Damon believes the unforgettable night he spent with Marietta in Monte Carlo is just a fling, an escape from his responsibilities. Then he discovers she is an Edwards—the family he despises most. He can’t quench his attraction for her, but he won’t let her use it against him. He won’t let her manipulate him to win money from his family. No matter how much he wants her, he won’t let her seduce him again.

Seducing the Enemy was just the right mix of romance, the love/hate variety and witty humor. Throw in some Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice mentions and I’ve got my kind of read!

Marietta Edwards spent thirteen years in a wheelchair after a tragic accident that killed her sister.  After many surgeries she regained her ability to walk two years ago, but still lives a cautious life.  She’s had a limited love life and so at twenty-five she intends to rectify that.  At the urging of her best friend they go to a nightclub with the purpose of honing her flirting skills.  She captures the attention of Harrison Damon, and his good looks and intensity captures hers as well.  Little does Marietta know that she is flirting with the enemy.  His cousin, Michael was the driver in that horrible accident that took so much away.  Harrison just happens to be lead council on the team that is constantly fighting her family’s lawsuit against the Damon’s.

Harrison is just checking on one of the family’s nightclubs when he spies Marietta, a girl who seems completely oblivious to his identity and wealth.  She’s seems just as affected and intensely attracted to him:

Harrison was mesmerized by her lovely face—warm, amused, sincere, utterly real. The urge to kiss her was so overwhelming he no longer resisted.

They end up spending the night together; a hot and passionate night, and Harrison wants more!  Well, that’s until their identities become known. Harrison’s convinced that Marietta and her family somehow set the whole thing up, and he’s ticked!  He’s even more upset when she shows up at the family estate and his uncle invites her to stay to settle everything.

Marietta was such a breath of fresh air. I have to say I loved the sweet and playful humor that Marietta exhibited even during some steamy moments.  Not one to sulk about her history, she just wants to put things behind her and get her grandfather to settle.  She’s mortified and angry that Harrison thinks she would actually stoop so low to manipulate the situation.  But as they spend time together both of their opinions soften. 

Harrison was guarded and suspicious at first. In spite of that he showed so much care and empathy for Marietta. He really was a sweet man under all that armor! Their gradual shift from hate to love was a pleasure to experience.

Noelle Adams’ brand of romance and writing is something I want to experience again, so I’m thrilled that we get another story.  This time is centers on Harrison’s brother, Andrew: Playing the Playboy .  Can’t wait!

Favorite quote:

“So you really forgive me?” he asked as their lips parted.
“Of course. I couldn’t have my Jane Eyre moment if I didn’t forgive the infuriating hero.”

A big thank you to Aman @ Enticed by Books for the recommend! 

Connect with Noelle Adams:

Sunday 27 October 2013

Showcase Sunday #38

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. The aim is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week.

Hello everyone, I hope you've all had a wonderful week! I received some great books this last week, some which I've been extremely excited about and others which I've been nervous about giving a go.

Thank you to Sarah Alderson and Grand Central Publishing.

Lila Shortcuts was a brilliant book with five novellas from five great characters, I love these characters that I'm so happy that Alderson is still giving us neat little stories, I shall have my review for this book up soon. Shooting Scars was a book I was highly anticipating, after loving Sins & Needles, but unfortunately Shooting Scars didn't leave the best impression with me, I will still be reading Bold Tricks, but probably won't be going into it as excited as I was before. The early thoughts regarding Allegiant have me really worried, luckily I haven't stumbled across any spoilers yet, but I haven't managed to start a single page yet in nervous anticipation! 

Lets see the goodies Rachel received! 

Thanks to Chicken House, Entangled Publishing, Kensington, Intermix, and Netgalley!


I’m currently finishing up the Curse Workers series by Holly Black and I’m loving it! The first book started off a little annoying to me but by the end I was fully hooked! I was listening to it well after I finished my drive home for work last night and I can’t wait to finish. Love Cassel Sharp! I may do a series review next month.

I requested Seducing the Enemy after reading Aman @ Enticed by Books loved it. I plan on starting the Amour et Chocolate series in November so I grabbed book five when I saw it up on Netgalley. Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings loves this series, and I’ve never gone wrong with one of her recommendations.

My lovely co-blogger, Jasprit, sent me a copy of The Killing Woods! This doesn’t release in the States until January so, yay! I love mysteries and this one sounds wonderful!

Feel free to leave links to your book hauls that you shared in the comments, Rachel and I would love to know what pretties you received! 

Saturday 26 October 2013

Review: Unfed (Undead #2) by Kirsty McKay

Unfed (Undead #2) by Kirsty McKay
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication date: August 27th 2013
My rating: 3.5 stars


Fresh meat! From a hospital of horrors to a runaway zombie train, it's an all-new onslaught of the slavering undead in the sequel to Kirsty McKay's killer debut!

Just when you think you're's the morning after the night of the return of the living dead. Or something like that. After running/bus-driving/snowboarding for her life alongside rebel Smitty, geeky Pete, and popular Alice, Bobby thought she'd found the antidote to the Carrot Man Veggie Juice that had turned the rest of their classmates into zombies. When Smitty (mmm...nom, nom) got chomped, Bobby pumped a syringe full of it into him herself.

But now Bobby's a prisoner in some hospital of horrors, with no clue how she got there. And Smitty is missing. What if he isn't cured after all? Bobby knows she's got to find him, even if it means facing Scotland's hungry hordes -- plus Alice's buckets of snark -- again. And this time, zombies aren't the only evil stressing her out. The brain-dead are bad enough, but how can Bobby stop the big pharma business behind the epidemic? Especially when her own mom works for the company?

*****Spoilers if you haven’t read Undead*****

Unfed sequel to Undead was an action packed ride! Zombies, gore, witty humor, and a little romance were laced through this fun read.

We pick up six weeks from where Undead left us with Bobby and Smitty on another school bus, escaping zombies and Xanthro pursuers.  Smitty was attacked and bitten, but he received the last antidote so no worries there.  Unfortunately, the bus tumbles and everything fades to black for Bobby.  She wakes up in a hospital and finds out she’s been unconscious for six weeks, and only Pete and Alice have been accounted for.  Smitty, her charming, rebel, sort-of-boyfriend, is MIA, and her mother is believed to be dead.  Also, Scotland has been overrun with zombies.  Of course, right as she is assured all is safe, things go completely to hell and zombies are everywhere! The horror/adventure that has become Bobby’s life begins again. 

 I love a good zombie tale!  It combines my love of survival stories with horror and adrenaline rushes that come from the inevitable chases.  You can find all of that in this series, however, where Undead and Unfed shine is definitely in the humor department.  Clever, snarky humor with campy references to favorite shows and movies such as The Terminator, Aliens, and Buffy throughout this story are sure to make you giggle.

Bobby is her usual take charge self always soldiering on and quick thinking on her feet.  Alice the previous (well, mostly) mean-girl, provides sass and dumb blonde clichés, and Pete is loveable as the nerdy group brain.  Russ is a new addition to the motley crew, handsome, with ninja like skills.  Smitty, my favorite sweet, rebel “bad-boy” was missing in much of this story and his absence left a huge hole for me.  One of the reasons I loved Undead so much is because of the push and pull between Smitty and Bobby which we don’t get until well after the 50% mark.  Overall, I think this is the main reason I didn’t love Unfed as much as Undead.

Even though I didn’t like Unfed quite as much as it’s predecessor, it was a good follow-up, and I enjoyed the ride.  Unfed wraps up somewhat, but as with any good zombie tale there are things left up in the air and the future is far from certain… This leaves me to wonder if there is another book in the works for this series. 

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