Review – Bully by Penelope Douglas

bully[1]

INTENSE  “FICTIONAL” LOVE STORY

Title: BULLY (Book #1 A Fall Away Novel)
Author: Penelope Douglas
Pages: 318
Genre: New Adult/Young Adult  – Contemporary Romance
Reviewer: Nicole
 

BLURB:

My name is Tate.

He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he’ll barely even speak to me.

But he still won’t leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way in hell I’ll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It’s time to fight back.

I’m not going to let him bully me ANYMORE!

REVIEW:

Wow! Bully by Penelope Douglas had such intense chemistry and sexual tension from the first chapter, that I got so consumed in this story I couldn’t put the book down!

One thing I will say is that Bully is a fairy tale.  If only there was a happy ending to all bullying like this story, and the only reason someone was being mean to you was for the simple, although jaded, fact that they are in love with you. I know we tell our little girls that when a boy in the playground teases you it’s because he likes you and maybe once upon a time this could be true but in today’s society Bullying is not this fairytale, it is a very real and cruel and seems to be magnified with all the technology and multimedia available today, not to mention broken homes, drug and alcohol issues.  No matter your gender, age, sexual preference, religion or race, anyone and everyone is a potential target to be bullied and it’s a REAL problem.

Bully’s protagonist is Tate who used to be best friends with her neighbor Jared, until the summer holidays before they started high school.  Jared went to spend his holidays with his Dad but came back from his Dad’s a very different person. He not only didn’t want to know Tate anymore but he came back ‘hating’ Tate and has made her last four years of high school a misery to the point she even went to France for a year to avoid him. Now Tate is back for her final year of high school with new confidence and direction, with her sole goal to get through this year and get into Columbia University.  Of course Jared doesn’t make that an easy option and the more encounters they endure they realize that the love and attraction they share for each other has never really gone away, you could even say its magnified.  But can Tate trust Jared again and open up her heart? Or is this all another charade to break Tate completely?

The chemistry between Tate and Jared was off the charts! Even when Jared was in his bullying phase you could feel the intense attraction and chemistry between these two main characters. To the reader it was very obvious that Jared was in love with Tate even with his conflicting actions and words, but the reader was desperate, like Tate, to find out “why” he was treating her this way? What were his reasons? What did Tate do? And this is one of the reasons you consume the book desperate to seek answers.

Tate’s character was strong, dependant and likeable. I liked her sense of morals and the values she displayed and how she was honest and conflicted in listening to her head or following her heart with Jared. She didn’t want to make it easy for him to come back into her heart after all the hurt she endured and I could empathize with her reasons.

Jared character screams “Sex” and “Bad Boy”!! Wow! Even though I don’t advocate Bullies, being the fairy tale that this story was – I loved him! He was hot, dark, sexy, swoon worthy, I mean I could go on and on describing his character but I think you get the point!  His dark tortured side was a heart breaker and you begin to empathize with his character and get a glimpse of what he is thinking and feeling over the past four years of his forced separation from Tate.

Tate’s best friend was K.C and I have to say I wasn’t a fan. I disliked her the moment she betrayed Tate and I feel that Tate was way too easy on her and if you read this story I would be interested in your opinion of her – do you feel that K.C broke the girl code?

Jared’s best friend was Madoc, who also a bullied Tate and like I said about Jared’s character, I don’t advocate Bullies but being this fairy tale, I really liked his character. I liked how we witnessed him stand up to Jared and question his feelings about Tate and I really liked him when he apologized to Tate for all his hurt he has conflicted towards her was displayed with such sincerity. Unlike K.C’s character, I liked how he showed true loyalty and dedication to his best friend and once Tate was a part of Jared’s life he portrayed his true loyalty and dedication to Tate.

Bully was fantastic read, the pace and flow was perfect. I have to say that the plot twist at the end definitely caught me off guard! Quite clever I must say and could have ended with the reader blindsided but like I have said many times in this review already – this story is ultimately a fairy tale and with all fairytales they have happy endings!

I loved this book and my sole reason for the half lip deduction is the display of the falsehood on bullying, I know this book genre is Fiction but it’s not the reality of today and I feel it still could be quite insulting to people who have been bullied in their life less significant, making their torment not worthy and for that I couldn’t give it 5 lips….but as a fictional love story, I loved it and would highly recommend it!!

lips grey 4.5

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

Out of the Ashes Covef[1]

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

Awakening_FrontCover_Web[1]

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 – The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen

 

WHAT’S YOUR SECRET?

Title: The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden
Author: Jessica Sorensen
Pages: 353
Genre: New Adult – Contemporary Romance
Reviewer: Nicole
 

BLURB:

Callie has grown up keeping her feelings locked away from the outside world, and as her painful past threatens to consume her life, most days it’s a struggle just to breathe.

For as long as Kayden can remember, suffering in silence has been the only way to survive, until one night when Callie and Kayden’s worlds collide.

After that moment, Kayden can’t stop thinking about Callie and when they end up at the same college, he does everything in his power to convince her that it isn’t coincidence – it’s fate.

REVIEW:

Wow! I have to say I was nervous to read this book after being so disappointed with my first introduction to Jessica Sorensen books with, The Secret of Ella and Micha, but I have to say that Sorensen has done a complete one eighty degree turn and wowed me with The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden. I couldn’t believe the same author wrote this book – her writing style, plot detail and depth kept me completely invested and intrigued throughout the whole story not to mention her ability to create such engaging characters, each with their own deep and dark secrets.

The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden, focuses on Callie and Kayden, both characters broken from tragic events that have happened in their lives and the secret of these events is consuming them into personal darkness.  When Callie saves Kayden one night, she has no understanding of the impact of her actions.  When Kayden realizes that Callie attends the same college, he is determined to get to know her. But Callie has a secret of her own, which makes it hard for Kayden to get as close as he would like.  As they spend more time together they very slowly open up, start to trust each other and discover that they are each other’s light within all the darkness.  The trouble is holding onto the light gets to be very hard once faced with one’s darkest secret.

This is a story where everyone has a secret and is struggling to keep it together. All the characters show this false confident exterior but on the inside they are all crumbling, broken and vulnerable. It proves that it is often those people who portray themselves to be too perfect or happy are generally hiding something, and the more perfect it seems, the more they are hiding.  A lesson that can be applied to a lot of situations in life, I guess?

I love the alternating point of view between Callie and Kayden, it allowed the reader to have a more emotional connection to both characters.  The reader had access to their internal struggles, the chemistry and attraction they share and the fear they have of not wanting to burden each other with their problems. Sorensen did a great job of slowly revealing Callie and Kayden’s blossoming relationship. I also really liked the secondary characters in this story, the best friends of the main characters Seth and Luke – who are also hiding secrets and I am sure there is more to their story which might come out in the sequel. In this story Seth and Luke seem to ground both main characters, they understand their best friends well and support them without judgment. I like the way Callie and Seth have a list they have to accomplish to help them break away from their darkness and the notes Sorensen makes on the accomplished task at the beginning of each chapter adds lightness to the story.

Now, as a mother I need to get this off my chest! I believe a mother’s role is to protect their child at all costs and provide for them the perfect safe haven (home). It is so sad that these characters’ tragic events happen in their safe haven causing them to fear their homes.  While the mothers of our main characters had only cameo roles in this story, they play a huge overall role to these characters tragic events. One of these mothers, though unaware the tragic event occurred, witnessed her child change overnight physically, emotionally and mentally, all clear signs for a cry for help – but refused to see the truth of what was in front of her. The other mother who was way worse, she may not have committed a crime buy she certainly didn’t do anything to stop it from happening.   She knew exactly what was going on with her family yet she chose to ignore reality and make excuses, she is equally responsible for was happened and should be locked away for life.  Both of these mothers in this story FAILED to protect their children which I found tragically sad and really affected me emotionally.  I was verbally abusing these mothers while reading this book.   I just wanted to reach into the book and give the love and protection to Callie and Kayden that they deserved and needed.

This story leads to a huge climax, leaving the story on a “holding your breath” very sad and emotional cliffhanger! So make sure you have the sequel, The Redemption of Callie and Kayden, so you can keep going with the story.

Overall this is a very emotional read, if you liked Hopeless by Colleen Hoover or Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan, you will definitely like this book.

lips grey 4.5

Review – If I Should Die by Amy Plum

A UNIQUE AND BEAUTIFUL SERIES!

TITLE: If I Should Die (Book #3 Revenants Series)
AUTHOR: Amy Plum
GENRE: Young Adult – Paranormal Romance
PAGES: 405
REVIEWER: Nicole

BLURB:

I will not lose another person I love. I will not let history repeat itself.

Vincent waited lifetimes to find me, but in an instant our future has been shattered. He was betrayed by someone we both called a friend and I lost him

It shouldn’t be possible, none of it should be, but this is my reality. I know Vincent is somewhere out there, I know he’s not completely gone, and I will do anything to save him.

After what we’ve already fought to achieve, a life without Vincent is unimaginable. He once swore to avoid dying – to go against his nature and forsake sacrificing himself for others – so that we could be together. How can I not risk everything to bring my love back to me?

 REVIEW:

Praise to Amy Plum for writing this unique series, with such a romantic story and setting, with beautiful characters that captured my heart. Thank you!

What captured my heart about this series was its unique plot and paranormal element.  It’s not another overdone vampire, werewolves or witch series. This series is about Revenants, which is a euphemism for Zombies – I know what you’re probably thinking and picturing but it’s nothing like the zombies in The Walking Dead series! You have the good Revenants (Undead Angels) called the Bardia, who spend their existence sacrificing  themselves to save humans and fight against the evil Revenants (Undead demons) called Numa, who spend their existence manipulating and influencing humans to commit evil acts or self sacrifice.

Then you have the fact that this series is set in Paris, which is, in my opinion, the most magical, romantic, historical and artistic place on earth.  Paris provides the perfect setting for the series overall plot and the beautiful love story between Kate and Vincent.  The chemistry between these two characters was so magical and magnetic.

The first book of this series, Die for Me, captured my attention by its beautiful cover and I loved this book so much I read it in a day – I simply couldn’t put it down. Then I was left waiting for the next installment, Until I Die, to be released and after the long wait I felt slightly deflated due to the book’s slower pace and the fact that Kate and Vincent spent a lot of their time apart causing me to miss the magnetism of their relationship.  I am glad to say this installment, If I Should Die, brought the series back with a vengeance.  It has a great pace, great plot, intriguing character twist and turns and more romance with Kate and Vincent working together throughout this installment.

If I Should Die, picks up the story right where it left off in, Until I Die. Vincent has been captured and murdered by the new Numa Leader in an attempt to steal his powers under the assumption he is the Champion, but there is a flaw in the Numa Leader’s plan. Kate, Jules, Vincent and the Bardia, are racing against the clock not only to save Vincent’s spirit and resurrect him back to his body, but to stop and defeat this new Numa Leader and their Numa army before they destroy the city.

All characters in this installment were amazing, especially the characters at La Maison, with a few unexpected and sad surprises. Kate’s character experiences so much growth in this installment, showing so much strength and maturity. Then there is Vincent’s character, which is perfect! He is tall, dark, handsome, romantic and French – what’s not to love? The way I hear him speak to Kate and call her “Mon Ange” (my angel) in my mind in his French accent has me swooning!! Overall, it was Jules’s character that made the biggest impact on me in this installment.  I really felt for him and the feelings he had for Kate which she could never reciprocate.  The romance was always a Kate and Vincent story with Jules falling in love on the side. Amy Plum detailed the exact scene for the reader to witness the exact moment Jules realizes his feelings for Kate in the first book, Die For Me. I truly hope Jules’ story is not over, because it would seem that Plum has set up a perfect spin-off series based around his character and the Revenants in New York City, in which he may have a chance at the happy ending that his character deserves – fingers crossed!

So this is goodbye to a beautiful series. Kate, Vincent and all the characters at La Maison will be sadly missed!

C’est donc au revoir à une belle série. Kate, Vincent et tous les caractères de La Maison sera malheureusement manqué

lips grey 4.5

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

divergent

UNEXPECTED!

Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Young Adult – Dystopian
Publication: HarperCollins
Release Date: 2011
Pages: 487
Reviewer: Kelly

Blurb:
Three flying birds…one for each of the family I left behind.

Sixteen-year-old Tris is forced to make a terrible choice. In a divided society where everyone must conform, Tris does not fit in.

So she ventures out alone, determined to discover where she truly belongs. Shocked by her brutal new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her.

The hardest choice lies ahead.

Explanation:
Divergent is the first book in the Divergent Series by Veronica Roth. It is set in a futuristic, dystopian city where people are divided into five factions. The five factions are the areas and groups of people that the city is divided into based on their ideals and beliefs. The five factions consist of the Abnegation who believe in selflessness, the Candor who believe in truthfulness, the Erudite who believe in knowledge, the Dauntless who believe in bravery and the Amity who believe in peace. Each faction rules a different part of the city and has different responsibilities so they all work together for the greater good.

The book begins on the eve of the ‘Choosing Ceremony’, where every 16 year old from each faction must take a test to determine of which faction they will be apart. The test tells them if they are destined to remain in the faction they were born into or if they are better suited elsewhere. Ultimately, regardless of the results, it is the individual’s choice. People who choose incorrectly or cannot handle the initiation processes end up ‘factionless’, the worst possible outcome to be without purpose or a community.

The story is told through the eyes of Beatrice ‘Tris’ an Abnegation born 16 year old, who is the protagonist of the book. Tris learns that her test results prove inconclusive making her ‘Divergent’. ‘Divergent’ meaning that she is suitable for more than one faction. It also means that Tris is in grave danger, as she is not able to be easily manipulated into one set of ideals and beliefs. Tris has to keep her ‘Divergence’ a secret, while making the decision to stay with Abnegation and her family, or move to another faction.

Opinion:
Divergent was very unexpected. I had been recommended to read this book as I was told it was very much like the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I loved Hunger Games so I was a bit reluctant to read this once I heard that, as I hate ‘knock-off’ books where authors write the same story only changing the setting and the name of the characters. I was pleasantly surprised! The only similarities between Divergent and the Hunger Games are that they are both based in a dystopian and futuristic world. The rest of the story is Roth’s own original and fantastic work!

The book was so interesting, with hidden plots twists and surprising character connections. Roth introduced new characters quite rapidly in the opening chapters, but did so in such a way that the reader was not over-whelmed. As the story continued the characters were explained and explored in greater depth, revealing associations between characters and other factions and expanding on the plot.

Exploring the story through Tris’ point of view helps to explain to the reader this strange and unfamiliar world as she explores it. Roth makes it engaging with its explanation of this dystopian world and the factions. Tris is learning just as much as the reader as she develops relationships and greater understandings with other factions and people she meets. Tris transforms throughout the story from the silent and dutiful Abnegation, to the strong and independent person she was destined to be.

The book had many ‘nail-biting’ moments. It was exhilarating with the suspense and action scenes. It was poignant with the mental strain placed on the characters and the gruelling and necessary decisions they had to make. It was also passionate, both with familial love and romantic love. It has so many unknown outcomes and possibilities that it keeps the reader engaged all the way to the end. The ending itself leaves things so incomplete that you are clawing for the next book!

Veronica Roth creates such a new, original and refreshing story. It is so stimulating to read something that is not paranormal and doesn’t involve supernatural. Her dystopian world is something to which readers can relate. It encompasses five main character traits in the five factions that could be perceived as either good or evil. Relatable and invigorating all at the same time!

Summary:
A fantastic read! I have already started to read Insurgent- Book 2 in the series! The Divergent movie is out in March 2014, cannot wait!!

lips grey 4.5

Review – Out Of Breath by Rebecca Donovan

BREATHLESS! 

Title – Out of breath (Book #3 Breathing Series)
Author – Rebecca Donovan
Genre – Young Adult – Comtemporary Romance 
Number of Pages – 488
Reviewer – Laura

Blurb:

Those she trusted betrayed her. Her broken heart still wounds her…
Emma trusts no one and she can’t let anyone in, not when she knows all they’ll find is darkness. But some people won’t take no for an answer and Emma must decide if the hidden truths and painful secrets are enough to let go of the possibility of love – forever.

Review:

Out of Breath is the third book from the Breathing series by Rebecca Donovan. It begins with Emma Thomas, who has left her life in Weslyn behind to attend Stanford University in California, where she has been for the last 2 years. Here, she has built a new life, with a brand new group of friends, however, Emma is still struggling greatly with her past, and the secrets that lie there. These secrets seem to be stopping her from moving on until, due to untimely circumstances, she needs to return to Weslyn, where she can start facing her past decisions, one step at a time.

Opinion:

***Spoiler alert***

After finishing Barely Breathing some time ago, which left off with a major cliff-hanger, I was so excited to read the third, and final, installment of this series.  I am glad to say that the wait definitely did not disappoint!

This series has actually shaken me to the core! After reading all the awful things that poor Emma Thomas had to go through, I am so happy that the book started with her in a somewhat positive state of mind. While Emma seems to have met some really great new friends, it’s clear that she is still feeling the repercussions of her past and the way she left things two years ago.  In reality, she is still the same broken girl that left Weslyn, and Evan, behind!

I found that I didn’t feel as sorry for Emma in this book as I did in the previous two installments. Admittedly, she has had a very hard and heartbreaking life, but the person I felt the most sympathy for this time around was Evan Matthews. I felt horrible for him when he saw Emma after all that time, only to find that she was still the same broken girl that left him behind. What I loved the most, was the fact that from that day forward, he knew that even though she had left him, he would not leave her side ever again!

Emma’s character did frustrate me a little at times. The fact that she suddenly turns to alcohol to solve her problems really bothered me, especially after everything she has been through. I still can’t get my head around why she felt the need to keep getting in touch with Jonathon (the other boy she left behind). My loyalty obviously rests with Evan, and the connection that Emma thinks she and Jonathan had frustrates me when I feel they nothing alike at all!

I loved Emma’s new group of friends and I felt that Meg, Serena, and Peyton really added a lot to the story. I enjoyed the way they looked out for Emma, and could tell what she really wanted before even she knew what it was – especially Serena.

The introduction of yet another love interest in Emma’s life seemed a little unfortunate; like she didn’t have enough going on already!  Overall, I have to admit that I liked the character of Cole – he is the ultimate nice guy.  His appearance definitely added intrigue to the plot as it resulted in the Emma – Cole – Evan love triangle (I was definitely Team Evan all the way!).

Arriving at the conclusion of the Breathing series, I feel satisfied and happy with the outcome! It was a great end to Emma’s story, and I would definitely recommend anyone to go out and get these books, if you don’t have them in your TBR pile already!

lips grey 4.5

Check out my reviews on Reason To Breathe (Book 1) and Barely Breathing (Book 2) to the Breathing series.