Review – Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren

Sigh….!

Title – Beautiful Player
Author – Christina Lauren
Genre – New Adult – Contemporary Romance
Pages – 402
Reviewer – Laura

Blurb:

When Hanna Bergstrom receives a lecture from her overprotective brother about neglecting her social life and burying herself in grad school, she’s determined to tackle his implied assignment: get out, make friends, start dating! 
And who better to turn her into this sultry siren every man wants than her brothers gorgeous best friend, Will Sumner, venture capitalist and unapologetic player? 

Will takes risks for a living, but he’s skeptical about this challenge of Hanna’s…until the wild night his innocently seductive pupil tempts him into bed – and teaches him a thing or two about being with a women he cant forget. now that Hanna discovered the power of her own sex appeal, its up to Will to prove he’s the only man she’ll ever need…

Opinion:

I have mixed feeling about this book. I have read the first two installments of this series, Beautiful Bastard and Beautiful Stranger, and fell in love with both of them! So, in comparison, this book was a little disappointing.

Whilst the chemistry between Hanna and Will was obvious from the start, I unfortunately didn’t find their story as enjoyable to read as I did with Bennett and Chloe from Beautiful Bastard or Max and Sara from Beautiful Stranger.

The first issue I had with the book was the fact that it took FOREVER for the two main characters to get together and hook up in the first place…like at least 7 chapters! And I just really felt that excess suspense was extremely boring to read.  The additional issue with all that suspense was their connection finally did happen, I found I wasn’t really that satisfied.

Like the previous books, Beautiful Player was written in Will and Hanna’s point of view in alternating chapters. This is one thing that I really love about the books as you get a better perspective of what both characters are thinking and feeling in each situation.

I don’t think that Hanna’s character was a very strong one, nor did I like her all that much, she seemed a little childish and annoying to me, and I found myself feeling awkward every time I was reading her chapters. She starts off as this shy, workaholic, with no friends at all, and then all of a sudden she becomes this outspoken girl who is obsessed with sex, which just seemed a little strange to me.  This sudden change of character with no explanation really upset the flow of the plot.

On the bright side, I really like Will’s character and found his chapters somewhat more enjoyable to read! Will was sexy, fit and obviously a well-known player, but he was also so sweet and caring that he came across as pretty much irresistible to me.  It is safe to say I’m pretty sure he is the main reason I even finished the book.

All in all whilst I didn’t enjoy it as much as the preceding installments, it did deliver a fairly good dose of sexual activity, and was quite easy to read, even though I didn’t love one of the main characters!

Anyone who has kept on top of the series like me will find it difficult to resist the temptation of more of the heat and passion delivered in the first two books.  It is unfortunate that this installment left me feeling so cold.

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Review – Layers (Stark Series Book #1) by Sigal Ehrlich

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 CLICHÉD GENRE!

TITLE: Layers (Stark #1 Series)
AUTHOR: Sigal Ehrlich
GENRE: New Adult – Contemporary Romance
PAGES: 299
REVIEWER: Nicole

*** Copy provided by the Author in exchange for an honest review*** 

BLURB:
According to Hayley love is a subject of ridicule, a myth created by hopeless romantics.

When Hayley makes a resolution to declare her loose lifestyle era R.I.P, it’s all good in theory…

That is until she meets Daniel Stark, a well-respected, mid-thirties business man who is known for his short temper, lack of steady relationships as well as his strict preserve of his private life.

Opinionated, sharp tongued Hayley accidently steps into his office leaving Daniel resolved to put Hayley in her place and have her in his bed.

Both Hayley and Daniel can’t avoid the immediate instigation of the attraction between them.

In a unanimously agreed upon verdict by Hayley and her two best friends, Ian the gay self-absorbed, aspiring model and Natasha the witty, borderline neurotic soul mate, Daniel Stark is to be Hayley’s pure physical attraction, emotions aside era closure.

Will it indeed be a closure, or a beginning to something neither Hayley nor Daniel ever bargained for…

REVIEW:
Layers by Sigal Ehrlich, a familiar read in this genre as of late, is another ‘extremely wealthy bachelor meets young beautiful girl and have wild and crazy sex’ romance storyline, which has many similarities to the some well-renowned books in the market place only a milder version.

Layers protagonist, Haley Grace Aka Hales is a young, beautiful, outspoken girl about to start her career. While accompanying her best friend Natasha to her orientation day at Stark Software Technologies, Haley accidently and unknowingly meets the dark, gorgeous and broody Mr Daniel Stark. As you might have guessed, Hayley makes a lasting impression on Daniel and one thing leads to another. At first their relationship is just pure lust – and sex – with no strings attached, until you guessed it, they quickly come to the conclusion they can’t do no strings attached since they are actually falling in love with each other.

Once I started reading this book I realized how many books I have read lately with this similar formula. I couldn’t get into this story as much as I hoped to, having to keep putting the book down and coming back to hoping to find some connection, but I struggled. I feel the plot and the characters lacked depth and content, which made the story drag. The main focus of the plot was centered on the mundane issues in any new relationship, there were no character pasts or secrets revealed and no real conflict in the story, and the so called conflict in the story, for me, fell very flat.

This is obviously a series and I found nothing really happened in this installment, which is a shame being the first book, you would think Ehrlich would want to hook the reader into the plot and characters in order to engage them into the series? But maybe she is leaving all her hidden aces in the new installment? Because the ending of the story was a HUGE disappointment for me, it just ended – no cliffhanger – just ended, so you need to read the next book to have some resolution to the story and characters.

The characters were ok but once again struggled to connect with any of them. Hayley was relatable but I found there was way too much inner monologue. I feel Ehlrich did this to try and express Hayley’s humourous personality, but I feel she was trying too hard. Daniel’s character was mediocre, I wanted more depth, mystery and baggage to him. I really didn’t like or connect with Tasha’s character, yes she was a good best friend towards Hayley but the way she was portrayed – having a affair with her boss who is already in a relationship – and stating that being in a existing relationship is “his” problem not hers – yep not my type of character.

The best character in this story for me was Daniels mother, straight away I liked and felt a connection. She felt real and her presence in the story was my favorite part not to mention my favorite quote of the book;

You need to think hard about what and how much is really enough. Once you find that out; it’s what makes you live in sheer bliss. Till then, there is constant doubts.

I actually took a moment to ponder this quote.

Even though I have stated quite a few negatives, I feel it just a sign that I need to move on from this particular genre but if you enjoy this genre and are not over this familiar storyline you will enjoy this story, just make sure you have book two ready to go!

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Review- Tousle Me by Lucy V. Morgan

tousle-me-by-lucy-v-morgan[1]

TOUSLED!

Title: Tousle Me
Author: Lucy V Morgan
Genre: Young Adult/ Romance
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 222
Reviewer: Kelly

*** Copy provided by Author in exchange for an honest review***

Explanation:
Tousle Me is a parody about college student Cammiebelle Hicks, who is about to embark on her freshman year with her two best friends- Enid and Archer. Enid and Archer are Cammie’s childhood friends and they are now all attending UCLAP together. Archer got into the Pi Pi Pi Frat House, and it’s here that Cammie first meets the alluring Hunter von Styles. Hunter is the ultimate party boy, he is wealthy, handsome and a real ladies man. Cammie is the opposite, a book blog reviewer, a virgin and an introvert. Cammie and Hunter’s story forms the crux of Tousle Me.

Opinion:
I feel Tousle Me is like the awesome model you admire from afar, which has great abs, a handsome face and impeccable taste. Then when you meet them you realise they are airbrushed abs, a digitally enhanced face and not quite as intelligent as you thought. If Tousle Me was a model, it would be the real life version. It looks like an interesting, romantic love-story and then half way in you realise it’s a hilarious parody of all contemporary great fiction novels!

Morgan had everything a great novel needed. She had a relatable main character, Cammiebelle Hicks the college freshman. She had the drop dead gorgeous frat boy. She had a jealous male best friend, who secretly had a crush on the main character. Then my personal favourite is that she had a main character that loved reading, had a reading review blog, was on Goodreads and watched Gossip Girl. All this and the clichéd characteristics of the main characters made Tousle Me an excellent parody.

Firstly, there is the unrealistic love interest by the name of Hunter von Styles. Hunter starts off as somewhat believable- a hot, rich, British guy who goes to a college in America and is part of a frat house. Then we find out he is so rich he is a billionaire, was in a German rock band before coming to college and dated Taylor Swift for a while. He is also so super rich that he bought Goodreads for Cammie, within the first few minutes of meeting her. He epitomises the characteristics of the ultimate male protagonist, he just happens to have all of these awesome features rolled into one!

Secondly, this leads me to the romantic plot development, or lack thereof, between Hunter and Cammie. In true love story style the reader has not really had the chance to meet and understand Cammie yet, let alone Hunter, before a random, chance meeting on a rooftop has them going on a first date. Okay, that’s fine. Then the real cliché’s appear with Hunter being overly pushy and obnoxious, exactly what you expect from a wealthy guy. What you don’t expect is that out of nowhere after date number one, they are completely besotted with each other?! Morgan was again using the parody very well, but it’s here that I felt that there could have been a little more explanation of their feelings and affection.  It is also on said first date that the reader learns yet another fact about Hunter, he is sometimes cage-fighter. Is there anything this guy isn’t – billionaire, rocker, college student,  serial dater, and a cage-fighter?

Morgan’s one downfall was the semantics, sentence structure and vocabulary in this novel.  The sentences were long and clunky, taking two sentences to explain what could have been written eloquently in one. The vocabulary chosen seemed almost immature, and not something you would expect from a contemporary, young adult novel. The demise of the vocabulary occured when Cammie’s lady parts started to be named things like “vaj mahal’, ‘daffodil’and ‘tuna cake’, just to name a few.

Summary:
A hilarious and tremendously witty read! Please note that it is a parody, so roll with the humour and clichés.

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Review – The Hunger Games – Catching Fire (Book 2) by Suzanne Collins

CAN’T GET ENOUGH!

Title – The Hunger Games – Catching Fire (Book 2)
Author – Suzanne Collins
Genre – Science Fiction
Pages – 472
Reviewer – Laura

Blurb:

Katniss Everdeen survived the Hunger Games, Now the Capital wants Revenge….

Review:

Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The story continues in the world of Panem, and follows Katniss Everdeen’s journey after she and Peeta Mellark win the 74th annual Hunger Games as “star crossed lovers”.

Without their knowledge, this has caused all twelve districts to see their win as a symbol of hope, and start to rebel, causing an uprising against the much hated Capitol.

This year is a special Hunger Games that the Capitol calls a “Quarter Quell”, and Katniss and Peeta find themselves selected as Tributes once again, to be thrown into the arena to fight for their lives against other previous winners of the games!

With an uprising they apparently ‘caused’ and another Hunger Games to survive, Katniss and Peeta begin another life or death adventure to desperately try to keep each other, and their loved ones, alive!

Opinion:

I felt that this book started off extremely slow and took me ages to get into. It actually didn’t get exciting at all until chapter 12, when the announcement was made about the rules of the Quarter Quell for the 75th Hunger Games.

I admit that when I got to this part of the story, I felt it would be very similar to book one and didn’t think it could possibly be as good.  While I wouldn’t say that I was mistaken, as it was quite similar, I still loved it and couldn’t put it down! I loved the fact that it was a different take on the games with the previous Victors having to fight again. I guess I found it a lot easier to read when it was not young children getting murdered.

I can definitely see how the braveness and determination in Katniss– even after all the blame president Snow has put on her shoulders – brings hope and inspiration to all the districts!

Her character in this book did annoy me a little this time though especially with the love triangle!

I was disappointed how the love triangle eventuated as I was expecting it to be much more intense.  Katniss just seemed very confused, one minute she likes Gale, next minute she likes Peeta, then she loves Gale, then she starts to fall in love with Peeta … Argh – I just wanted to scream at her to make up her mind!!

When we get to games however – that’s when everything I loved about Book 1 came through, and was present in Catching Fire! The secrets of the Arena set up and theme were very clever, and once the action started to intensify, I really started to enjoy the book a lot more! 

All in all this explosive series is a great read, and again, I would recommend this book to anybody who has not read it yet!!

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Review – Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

M-ALICE

Title – Beautiful Malice
Author – Rebecca James
Genre – Crime/Thriller/Murder
Pages – 283
Reviewer – Laura

Blurb:

‘Truth or Dare?’ she asks.

I hesitate. ‘Truth’, I say finally. ‘I can imagine one of your dares, and I don’t fancy running down Oxford Street naked tonight’.

‘Truth’, Alice says slowly, drawing out the vowel sound as if she’s savouring the word. ‘Are you sure? Are you sure you can be completely honest?’

‘I think so. Try me’

‘Okay.’ And then she looks at me curiously.

‘So, were you glad, deep down? Were you glad to be rid of her? Your perfect sister? Were you secretly glad when she was killed?’

Katherine has moved away from her shattered family to start afresh in Sydney. There she keeps her head down until she is befriended by the charismatic, party-loving Alice, who brings her out of her shell. But there is a dark side to Alice, something seductive yet threatening. As Katherine learns the truth about Alice, their tangled destinies spiral to an explosive and devastating finale.

Opinion:

Beautiful Malice was quite an intense and chilling read. I don’t normally read the crime/murder genre – but I did quite enjoy this one! It was a little slow moving at first, but after the second chapter I was growing increasingly interested in the story.

Katherine Patterson is this broken, shattered girl, who is still mourning the untimely murder of her younger sister Rachel. To get away from her grieving, and now somewhat overprotective parents, she has moved to Sydney to start afresh, and is randomly befriended by the popular Alice, and her friend Robert.

At first Alice seems to be this fun loving personality, who genuinely cares about her friendship with both Katherine and Robert. As the friendship between the three of them grows, Katherine opens up about her secrets, and the events that took place when her sister was murdered. After she does this however, the reader realizes that Alice also has some shocking secrets of her own and she is not the girl that Katherine, or Robert, believed her to be.

What kept me intrigued was the fact that I felt like I was reading 3 stories in one! I really liked how Rebecca James wrote Katherine’s past, present and future in little snapshots, and this keeps you guessing throughout the whole book… I was surprised when I got to the end, as it definitely was not what I expected!

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Review: Island in the Clouds by Susan M. Toy

island in the clouds

A cleverly crafted story!

Author: Susan M. Toy
Title: Island in the Clouds
Pages: 183
Genre: Mystery
Reviewer: Debby
Blurb:
The dead body in the pool is putting a serious dent in Geoff’s morning. An expat property manager on the Caribbean island of Bequia, Geoff doesn’t want a spotlight shone on the secret past he left behind in Canada, but now he’s the suspect in a brutal murder. With no help from the inept local police force, he’s drawn into investigating the murder himself, to clear his name. As Geoff finds out more about the circumstances surrounding the killing, and he and his loved ones find themselves in danger, he begins to see a very dark underbelly of the place some people call paradise…

Part travelogue, part mystery, ISLAND IN THE CLOUDS takes a long, hard look at the reality of living in a place that seems perfect-from the outside, anyway.

Review:

The greatest part of reading Island in the Clouds, was how much fun I had relating Bequia to my own Caribbean Island experience in Grand Cayman. While the two places are separated by over 2000km’s, it is clear that some things are purely characteristic to the islands, regardless of proximity. Susan Toy did a fantastic job of purveying the culture and feelings experienced by expats all over the Caribbean. She made me fall in love with the island lifestyle all over again; laid back, multi-cultural, miles from ordinary yet so easy to acclimate. There is no doubt that the author ticks all the boxes as far as enticing the reader into this compelling travelogue, she nearly convinced me to move back!

Another thing that Susan Toy did very well was craft an intriguing mystery full of twists and turns as well as a reveal at the end that I most certainly did not see coming. The series of events that drive the plot are unveiled in such a way that the reader literally feels sea sick but also eager to read to the end to discover the culprit behind these heinous events.

The one area that I would have liked to see explored further was character development. All the requisite bits and pieces were there; a reliable narrator, a love interest and a variety of humourous and moral supporting characters, but I felt that I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I would have liked given the often severe circumstances in which they found themselves. This surprised me since I connected so easily with the “character” Toy had created of Bequia.

That aside, Susan Toy is very brave and forthright in Island in the Clouds in the way she handles several sensitive social issues that these small islands are prone to enduring. To discuss the issues here would give away too much of the plot, suffice it to say that her narrative description of the island and the issues involved in the plot twist reveal combine to create an excellent portrayal of island life; both the most beautiful realities and those aspects the islanders would rather remain out of the spotlight.

This is a great novel to check out for those who have always wanted to know what real island life is like, with a bit of mystery thrown in to keep things interesting!!

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Review – Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title – Beautiful Darkness
Author – Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Genre – Fiction/Paranormal/Young adult
Pages – 503
Reviewer – Laura

Blurb:

One Night in the rain, Ethan Wate opened his eyes and fell in love with Lena Duchannes. His life would never be the same. 

Lena is a Caster and her family is locked in a supernatural civil war. On her sixteenth birthday Lena made a terrifying choice, which now haunts her day and night. As her seventeenth birthday approaches, Lena and Ethan face even greater danger. A Caster and a mortal can never truly be together.

 Every kiss is a curse. Ethan’s next heartbeat could be his last. It is their curse now…

Review:

Beautiful Darkness is the second book in the Beautiful Creatures series.  The book begins with Uncle Macon’s funeral – who unfortunately died at the end of book one. Since his death Lena, who is feeling completely riddled with guilt, begins to pull away from Ethan and starts to spend a lot more time with her dark Caster cousin, Ridley, and her new mysterious friend, John Breed.

In the meantime, Ethan is dealing with supernatural issues of his own (even though he is mortal) and is struggling greatly with the fact that he has no Lena to confide in.

Opinion:

I am really enjoying this story right now! Beautiful Darkness is the second book in the Beautiful Creatures series, and I am absolutely hooked! In saying this, however, I did find this book slightly disappointing.

For starters, the love story was completely off track. I found Lena’s character to be extremely frustrating, and quite frankly, I didn’t really like her at all! She was so annoying that at times I felt like I just wanted to pull her out of the book and shake her until she saw sense!

Aside from that, I still really love Ethan’s character and, in my opinion, he is the strongest of them all! He put up with and went through quite a lot in this book (especially with Lena), yet he refuses to give up or let her go no matter what the cost!

Then there are two new characters, Liv and John. John is basically the character that you will love to hate! With Liv’s character I found I had mixed feelings.  On the one hand she seems cute and very easy to get along with, but there were times when I didn’t appreciate the fact that she was obviously in love with Ethan in spite of the fact that she knew he was with Lena.

Even though these two characters bring a new (slightly annoying) twist that adds to the love triangle (or square…whatever!), I found they made a great addition to the story.  I’m excited to find out where their characters will end up.

All in all, I think it was a good sequel to Beautiful Creatures, and the last chapter definitely left an exciting opening for Book 3 – Beautiful Chaos!

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Check out my other reviews to this series, Beautiful Creatures (Book 1) and Beautiful Chaos (Book 3)