Review- Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

dont look back

Title: Don’t Look Back
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Young Adult/ Romance
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 384
Reviewer: Kelly

BLURB:

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

OPINION:

The moment I opened the first page of this book, and read the opening lines I was hooked- line and sinker! I didn’t know where this story would take me. Having read a lot of Armentrout’s previous novels I knew she could have taken me to a universe full of mythical creatures, or included an alien invasion, instead she kept it really simple and let this story play out in the ‘real world’. It was relatable as the situation that Samantha found herself in could happen to anyone, anywhere or at anytime.

The story was written in the first person point of view, through the eyes of Samantha, the main protagonist. She begins the story with her memories and her best friend missing. As a reader we are learning all about her life at the same time that she is! Then as her memories begin to come back in dreamlike, flashbacks and visions you start to wonder, just like Samantha, where is Cassie? The plot thickens when mysterious hand written notes begin to appear, sending very cryptic messages, turning this novel into a real “who done it?”

The foreshadowing techniques used throughout the story really kept you guessing until the very last page. Armentrout was very clever to give out little hints and clues throughout the book, but never enough to give the ending away. This created a gripping and enthralling read that was refreshing and different to any other novel I have ever read!

SUMMARY:
Wow! Armentrout can do no wrong! This book was an intriguing, heart-stopping, page turner. I finished it in a day. I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!

lips grey 5

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Review – The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year

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TITLE: The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year (Book #1)
AUTHOR: T.L Steffe
GENRE: Young Adult – Contemporary Romance
PAGES: 168
REVIEWER: Nicole

BLURB:

For eighteen-year-old Monroe Reid, life is full of change. Her long-time best friend, Lennon Walker, confessed his true feelings for her and she hasn’t spoken to him since. That was eight weeks ago. On top of that, she is about to leave her family, who is growing increasingly distant from her, and begin her journey of independence in her freshman year of college.

With Lennon headed in the opposite direction of the country, Monroe knows she needs to confront their situation ASAP. Lennon has a shaky history and has struggled with obstacles in his past, while Monroe has always been his constant rock. Now, she is struggling with the blurred lines of their friendship.

Once at college, Monroe quickly finds herself in a world filled with new friends, opportunities, and a potential love interest.

Bad boy Brayden Stryker knows there’s something special about Monroe the moment he lays his eyes on her. It doesn’t take long for her to fall for him, especially when he confides his darkest secrets to her.

Can Monroe trust Brayden, or will he break her heart, leaving Lennon to pick up the pieces? Freshman Year is a tale of friendship full of love and laughter, and heartache and despair

REVIEW:

If you are drawn to college romance and love triangles genres you are going to love The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year!

The protagonist of this story is Monroe, who is about to set off and start her first year of collage away from her family and best friend, Lennon. Before she leaves, Lennon a.k.a “Infamous”, expresses his true feelings for Monroe, leaving her confused and conflicted about her true feelings. Once she gets to College she meets Brayden a.k.a “Dream boy”, she realizes her feelings for Lennon was nothing like what she feels for Brayden. Brayden and Monroe fall in love fast but Brayden has a dark past and secrets, can he overcome his past? Will he trust Monroe with his secrets? And will their relationship survive despite his demons?

The first thing I have to express is opposite sex best friends in my opinion never works – though always make an interesting fictional love story! There is always one that starts to feel more than friendship, leaving the other person: A – feeling the same and they develop a fantastic relationship and a love story forms, or B – the other person doesn’t feel the same, they try to remain best friends, which we all know just can’t work and results in the platonic person losing their best friend, which is very sad.

So now that I have expressed my feelings on that matter, I have to say that I was constantly juggling between being on team Lennon to team Brayden in this story. I would be rooting for one of them and then they would go and do something stupid and I change my backing – in the end I was left being on team Lennon but this could once again change in the future.

Both Lennon and Brayden’s characters are damaged with a hell of a lot of baggage, terrible childhoods and lots of dark secrets. The scary thing is they both kept expressing how they “needed” Monroe, to me they were showing clear signs of desperation rather than love, especially Brayden in the end for his character definitely has major issues that are yet to be revealed.

I liked Monroe’s character, I like her personality which was likeable and real for girls her age, but I do feel at times she plays Lennon as back up at times to console her feelings regarding Brayden but once again this is how opposite sex best friends become tricky.

The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year is a quick, easy read with great flow and pace and a great college romance/love triangle plot.  The only negative I will point out is we still know nothing about Brayden’s character which is frustrating, and I only wished I could understand him more to be able to connect with his character. Also, Monroe’s family are hiding something or going through some sort of turmoil  which  we still don’t have a clue about either, but I guess this is the hook to bet the reader invested and wanting to find out these unanswered questions – well Steffe has piqued my interest and definitely has me hooked!

So I guess I will have to wait until Book Two: Sophomore Year to see what awaits in this installment which will be very interesting I must say…will it be Brayden or Lennon? Or a new damaged character in the mix?

 lips grey 4

Review- Carnelian (The Chalcedony Chronicles # 1) by B.Kristin McMichael

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Clever, clever, clever!

Title: Carnelian (Chalcedony Chronicles # 1)
Author: B Kristin McMichael
Genre: Young Adult/ Science Fiction (Time Travel)
Publication:
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 209
Reviewer: Kelly

Synopsis:
Everyone has a past, but for most it isn’t so far in the past as Seth Sangre. His past is literally from thousands of years ago. Seth’s past led him to the present seeking something that might help him save his country from destruction. He has been in the present for over three years now, and he just found exactly what he has been looking for.

Mari had dreams of college being a fresh start, one where she would start over and not fall for the good looking player like high school. Unfortunately for her, that’s exactly what ends up falling into her lap on the first day she moves into the dorms. Now she has to hold to her promise to herself not fall for the handsome Seth Sangre. But he doesn’t plan to make it easy for her. Seth has already marked her as his next conquest. As the semester progresses Mari learns that Seth might just have a past of his own that’s literally in the past.
Suddenly, Mari finds her future along with her past put into question. She’s connected to Seth far more than she ever wanted to be, and maybe he isn’t the player who she thought he was. If Mari can trust her heart enough to follow him, Seth will lead Mari on an adventure of a lifetime-and reveal family secrets she never knew existed.

Opinion:
Carnelian is a refreshing take on a modern college tale. McMichael has created characters that are not your “run of the mill” college students. There is no bleach blonde cheerleader or wealthy sorority boy. Granted there is still the super hot football star, but he is not the usual stereotype. He is soulful, insightful and exotic looking. His female counterpart is a tall red haired beauty, with an Indian best friend. I loved this more realistic and multicultural look at college life.

Then there is the storyline. It is not about fallen angels, vampires, dystopian societies or mythical creatures. For a dynamic change, it’s a mysterious adventure about time travel and ancient societies. It felt like a cross between ‘The time traveller’s wife’, a college romance novel and a history book. Well done McMichael! It kept me engaged from the beginning to end.

The romance between the two main characters is teased out in the opening chapters, keeping the reader wanting more. Mari is a strong, intelligent character who is cautious and calculating about beginning any new romances. Seth is aloof and persistent, with witty charm and charisma that makes you swoon! The combination of these two characters creates a perfect balance for the story, and maintains the momentum of the plot.

My only small criticism was that the middle was a little lack lustre there for a few chapters . The reader was left wondering what was going to happen next as the main characters romance had already been explored. The rapid pace of the last few chapters, however, made up for this lull in the middle. I was turning the pages faster than I could read properly, in order to get to the end. And what an end it was! It left me wanting more, but unfortunately I will have to wait patiently for the next instalment.

Summary:
B Kristin Mc Michael has created something punchy, refreshing and dynamic. Cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

lips grey 4

Review- Out of the Ashes (The Ashes Series # 1) by Diana Gardin

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FLAMING HOT!

Title: Out of the Ashes (The Ashes Series #1)
Author: Diana Gardin
Genre: Young Adult/ Romance
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 179
Reviewer: Kelly

***Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review***

Blurb:
Out of the frying pan and into the fire…
Paige Hill is discovering who she is again after losing everything she loves in a tragic fire. She’s endured a long road to recovery with the help of her best friend Gillian and is finally beginning her life again: college, a job, and a blossoming love she never even saw coming.
Clay Forbes is the notorious campus playboy. He’s a star athlete, a senior architecture major, and the only son in a family with power and money back in his hometown. When he crashes into Paige, his whole perspective on life shifts, and his world as he knew it becomes nonexistent. He’s wrapped up in her.

They’re both learning how to love, but Clay’s ex-girlfriend Hannah won’t make it easy for them. She puts a target on Paige’s back, and won’t stop until she’s derailed their budding romance once and for all. Who will be left standing after the ashes settle for the second time?

Opinion:
Out of the Ashes grabbed me from the first page. It already had an intriguing premise, with our main protagonist Paige waking up in a hospital bed. From the first moment the reader is absorbed in the story, wanting to know how and why Paige has been injured. As the title suggests Paige’s injuries are resultant from a fire, and from here the story progresses from the aftermath of the fire, to her loss and her ability to rebuild her life.

While rebuilding her life to some sort of normalcy Paige meets Clay, the dreamy love interest. This love story is a little different, as Paige is so damaged, both physically and emotionally. Gardin alternates between Clay and Paige’s perspectives so that the reader was able to garner a true understanding of what each character was thinking and feeling. This technique was also useful in introducing other secondary characters to the reader, such as Paige’s best friend Gillian and Clay’s frat buddies. Through the use of alternating points of view, the reader could appreciate just how important these characters were to both of the main protagonists.

Gardin added depth and variety into the plot line to keep the reader guessing all the way to the end. The ending floored me! It was not what I was expecting at all. Without being to cryptic or giving anything away, it was as if all the things I wish would happen did, but not with the consequences that I wanted! It is going to be very interesting to see how things play out in the sequel, as I have come to expect the unexpected!

Summary:
I read this book in a day so, needless to say, I cannot wait for the release of Book 2 later in 2014! If you love a good romance with a few twists and turns then this is the book for you.

lips grey 4.5

Review- Awakening (The Destined Series # 2) by Ashley Suzanne

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AMAZING AWAKENING!

Title: Awakening (The Destined Series # 2)
Author: Ashley Suzanne
Genre: Young Adult/ Romance
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 206
Reviewer: Kelly

***Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review***

Explanation:
Awakening is the third and final book in The Destined Series. It completes the story of four college friends Mira, Skylar, Danny and Kylee. Awakening begins with Mira waking from a coma in hospital. It explores her recovery, both physically and emotionally, as well as how each of her friends copes with the aftermath of her accident. The love triangle between the main protagonists, Mira, Skylar and Danny is the crux of this story. The use of multiple viewpoints within the novel helps to explain every detail of the story.

Opinion:
After getting over my initial shock that Inception was a prologue to Mirage, which took us back in the story, I finally got my hands on Awakening. I read this book within 24 hours as I was dying to know what happened! Awakening did not disappoint. It finally told the present day story of Mira and her friends, and oh and was it fantastic. It was a little predictable in some parts, but it was so satisfying in other parts that it all but made up for it!

Suzanne delivered Awakening using multiple viewpoints once again, changing between Mira, Skylar and Danny. The reader had access to how Mira was really coping after waking from her coma, as well as where her true feelings lay. The reader was also privy to Skylar and Danny’s thoughts and actions in this very unique situation. Suzanne also used clever dialogue and descriptions to explain each circumstance from every angle.
I loved how this book ended with so much closure. I hate it when books leave things very open ended. Suzanne did a marvellous job in closing up all major storylines without leaving the reader guessing. Every characters storyline was explained with great plotlines.

Summary:
Well done Ashley Suzanne, Awakening was a great conclusion to The Destined Series. If you cannot get enough of these characters Suzanne has created a spin-off series from Mira’s best friend Kylee’s point of view. Facade is out February 17, 2014.

lips grey 4.5

Review – Bold by Julia Swift and Andrew Landis

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Title: Bold
Author: Julia Swift and Andrew Landis
Genre: YA
Pages: 266
Reviewer: Debby

** Thanks to the authors for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review**

Learning to be BOLD

Blurb:
When Sasha, a shy, 15-year-old girl who hides from the world, almost dies in a car crash, she vows that if she survives, she will be bold and live life to the fullest. Her newfound courage is tested when she meets Will, who moved to town after his journalist father’s disappearance. Will is fascinated by Sasha’s brush with and secret knowledge of death.

Sasha and Will push each other to take chances and break out of their sheltered world. Will they discover the difference between being bold and being reckless before they put themselves, or someone else, in danger?

Review:

First off, I have to admit I was unknowingly already a fan of these two author’s prior to reading this book. I have followed T.V. shows that they have written for such as Smallville and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys for years. So after learning that Swift and Landis had contributed to some of my favourite young adult television dramas, I could not wait to sink my teeth into their YA fiction offering. I was met with some definite similarities in themes and motifs which did not disappoint.

While I am not certain that Swift and Landis necessarily want their new written work compared to their previous work for television, I could not help but read this text with my previous knowledge in mind. In the past they have written about the underdog youths and beginnings of some of fantasy’s strongest, most unbreakable characters, such as Superman and Hercules. They are masters in narratives of building from the ashes, learning tough lessons from hard experiences, and overcoming obstacles to become who you are destined to be. All of these themes appear in one form or another in their YA novel, Bold.

Swift and Landis provide us with a very relatable story of two high school students, Sasha and Will, who have both experienced tragic life events which complicate the already rough terrain of young adulthood. Through Sasha’s point of view, the reader follows the story of a shy, socially awkward and unaccepted girl whose brush with death prompts her to shake off her wall flower roots and go out and get noticed. While her actions ultimately get her the wrong type of attention, the real draw to Sasha’s character is that there is something special, almost magical, about her character. With her character, I felt as though the authors were sending a message to all of today’s hyper-judgmental teens to say that behind every bullied, neglected teenager, there is something of value, some quality being taken for granted. Well high five to Swift and Landis for this, it is exactly the kind of message young society needs!! Everyone is valuable!

Will on the other hand, is a cool kid, although he is a cool kid at a new school. He plays basketball, makes friends easily, and wants to be part of the high school experience. So much so he becomes involved in the school newspaper. But there is more to his writing than just a desire to have a finger on the pulse, he is really writing to be close to his Dad, a high profile journalist who has disappeared. To try to sort through this difficult time, Will attempts to prove himself to his absent father. There is a scene in the book where Will is crying in public, another scene which speaks to the rigid stereotypes that exist in our youth’s culture, and this is where the unlikely couple meets for the first time.

What follows, part love story and part self-discovery story, is a fresh offering to the YA category in that it shows two separate characters as they develop and overcome their individual difficulties on their path to their love story. Neither one is dependent on the other for help with their issues, rather they admire one another and the different ways they have found to survive, grow and ultimately find each other. So do not look here for warm floating butterflies and consuming passionate kisses, though there are a couple, rather find an inspirational story of two young people who use the adversity life hands them to set them on the paths to their destiny.

lips grey 4.5

Review- Tousle Me by Lucy V. Morgan

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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.

lips grey 3