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Book Review: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Book Review: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Format: paperback

Published:  October 26, 2010

Genre: Young adult, Romance

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

I’ve left some clues for you. 
If you want them, turn the page. 
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.” 

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times best-selling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own

Review: 

Two teenagers, each facing the prospect of facing Christmas alone in New York City, embark on a city wide scavenger hunt involving a little red moleskin notebook. Dash, alone by choice, and Lily whose parents abandoned her to have their second honeymoon in tropical paradise, both find a new friend though this bizarre game of dare and possibly something more.

There was a lot I liked about this book, and a lot that I didn’t. I enjoyed the game. As someone who’s favourite episode of One Tree Hill is “Dare Night”, the whole concept of this book appealed to me. I loved the quirkiness of Lily’s extended family as well as the adorably almost puppy-like enthusiasm for life of Dash’s friend, Boomer.

What I didn’t enjoy so much was Dash’s pretentiousness. He’s the ultimate hipster kid – a little too cool for life, a little too well read dropping literary quotes like they’re going out of style. I enjoyed reading his thoughts and conversations but they lacked a little realism for me. The conversation he has with Lily’s great aunt Ida – it just a little too much for me. He was trying to be a modern day Holden Caulfield and he knows it.

I liked Lily’s innocence especially when contrasted with Dash’s been-there-done-that attitude. They were a great match for each other.

This is one of those books that if I were still a teenager, I think I’d love.


Rating: 

3 out of 5

Purchase book at:

Book Depository (paperback) / Amazon (paperback) / FishPond (paperback)

Book Review: Switched by Amanda Hocking

Book Review: Switched by Amanda Hocking (Trylle Trilogy #1)

Format: ebook

Published:  July 12, 2010

Genre: Young adult, paranormal, urban fantasy, magic

Sensuality Rating: kisses

Synopsis (from Goodreads)When Wendy Everly was six-years-old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn’t until eleven years later that Wendy finds out her mother might’ve been telling the truth.

With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed – and it’s one she’s not sure if she wants to be a part of.

Review: 

At her sixth birthday party, Wendy Every’s mother tried to kill her with a cake knife. Way to kill the party vibe…

Since then Wendy has been living with her very over protective older brother, Matt, and her aunt Maggie moving every few months whenever Wendy gets kicked out of yet another school. When not another private school will take her Wendy enrols in a public school but her attitude hasn’t changed at all. Brawling with girls in the bathroom and sleeping her way though History class – that’s literally sleeping complete with drool. Nothing seems to have changed at all. Until she notices Finn Holmes – the only kid in the class that’s even newer than she is – staring at her. Constantly.

The only thing worse than his creepy behaviour is the fact that Wendy can’t help but notice how attractive Finn is. After a disastrous date to the school dance, Wendy isn’t even sure if she wants to see Finn again but he drags her into a world she’s knows nothing about complete with princesses, magical powers and trolls…

I really enjoyed this story. After reading many paranormal teen novels that follow the same formula (girl meets boy, they fall in love for no apparent reason, they have drama but end up happily ever after) I was glad to read a story where the romance isn’t the focus. Yes, Wendy does develop feelings for Finn but that’s by no means the focus in this story.

The world of the Trylle was fascinating. I love the idea of changeling children being “switched” out with the children of wealthy parents in order for the Trylle society to inherit generous trust funds that they then bring back to the society after Trackers are sent to find the changelings.

One of the few things that I did have issues  with in this novel was the pacing – there was a lot of world building and background information that was important to set up the series but I was 50 pages from the end and was waiting for the climax to start. 40 pages to the end I was still waiting. It wasn’t until twenty pages from the end that all the drama unfolded but it was all wrapped up within a few pages – it had to be because we were running out of pages before the novel ended.

I really enjoyed this story. It was a great YA paranormal story that offered me something new. I’d never read a troll story before but I will be reading another  – the sequel is already on my kindle and waiting for me! 😛

Rating: 

3.5 out of 5

Purchase book at:

Book Depository (paperback) / Amazon (kindle version) / FishPond (paperback)

Book Review: The Goddess Hunt by Aimee Carter

Book Review: The Goddess Hunt by Aimee Carter (Goddess Test #1.5)

Format: ebook

First Published: March 1, 2012

Genre: Young Adult, Mythology, teen romance

Synopsis (from Goodreads)A vacation in Greece sounds like the perfect way for Kate Winters to spend her first sabbatical away from the Underworld…until she gets caught up in an immortal feud going back millennia. Castor and Pollux have been on the run from Zeus and Hades’s wrath for centuries, hiding from the gods who hunt them. The last person they trust is Kate, the new Queen of the Underworld. Nevertheless, she is determined to help their cause. But when it comes to dealing with immortals, Kate still has a lot to learn….

Review: 

Castor and Pollux, the Gemini twins who are now going by the names Casey and Lux, have been fleeing from the wrath of Zeus and Hades for thousands of years. Whilst still on the run, they come across James and Kate who are spending six months holidaying in Greece. When they find out that Kate is the new wife of their biggest enemy, they’re unhappy and with due cause. The Gods have now found them…

This short story served one real purpose. To show that Kate has no idea just how archaic and strict the Gods (including Henry) are. She has a lot to learn before she takes her place on the throne of the Underworld.

I’m not generally a fan of novellas for books in a series. Especially if they are centred around the main characters that a series follow. Why? Because normally they come in an anthology with multiple other stories for series I’m not interested it. Also, they’re often not long enough for me to really get involved with the story and the characters. Whilst this was a single story (and only $0.99!), it was a little too short for me to really get back into Kate and Henry’s world. I did enjoy the pseudo-love triangle that’s developing with James, Kate and Henry but in the end, consider Kate is married to Henry, I don’t see that little flirtation between Kate and James going anywhere.

I think that you could skip this story and not miss out anything important from the series.

Rating: 

2 out of 5

Purchase book at:

Amazon (kindle version)

For my review of Aimee Carter’s The Goddess Test (Goddess Test #1), please click here

Book Review: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Book Review: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants #5)

Format: Hardcover

First Published: June 1, 2011

Genre: Young Adult, Chick Lit

Synopsis (from Goodreads): From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Brashares comes the welcome return of the characters whose friendship became a touchstone for a generation. Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting.

Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.

Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.

As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one.

Review: 

Growing up I read the first book in this series and in many ways reading this latest instalment was like welcoming an old friend back into my life. The girls, now women, were true to how I remembered them and yet different.

This novel starts off with Carmen – the youngest of the group. Once an awkward teenager, now a glamorous TV star with a successful fiancé and a gorgeous New York City apartment, Carmen seems to have it all. Lena has embraced her artistic side and is selling her paintings and working at the art college she was attending as a student all those years ago. Bridget is still as impulsive as ever but still with Eric and now living in San Francisco. And Tibby? Well… that seems a bit of a mystery to everyone. Since she moved to Australia two years ago contact has been sporadic at best.

When Tibby gives the other three girls tickets Greece for an impromptu reunion all the women are excited. But what happens on the Grecian island is something that will change their lives forever.

I had some problems with this story. The characters were the same as I remembered and yet different in a way that felt odd to me. I connected so strongly with the girls when I was in my teens. Our struggles were somewhat similar and I could relate to them. But now, they’re facing problems that I haven’t – and hope in many ways that I won’t ever – and whilst I could imagine the things happening to them was right up their alleys, at the same time I didn’t feel the same way with regards to their relationships with me.

This story was in many ways nostalgic but I liked how whilst there were references to the events of the past books, the past wasn’t dwelt upon. The action was in the present. Whilst life hadn’t gone exactly according to plan for all of them, for the most part they weren’t trying to relive their past. I did miss the little letters and emails that prefaced chapters in some of the other books but the quotes before each chapter were fitting.

I felt like Tibby was a little out of character. The message of this book for me is one of friends forever, and as long as you have your sisterhood you’ll never be alone. And yet Tibby embarked on a whole new life without letting the other girls in. It worked in the sense of that mystery was needed to drive the novel to a fitting conclusion but it didn’t sit well for me with regards to the close-knit friendship that the four of them had.

I am a little worried about the sisterhood – Bee in particular. They seem a little too co-dependant. I like the friendship aspect but the ending message that I was left with was that for Bee, she couldn’t exist without the sisterhood and I for me… I’m so very worried about her. I spent the whole novel worrying about her and I hope that the others can help her. (I am aware these are fictional characters.)

This last installment of the Sisterhood was true to the series. In terms of structure and story it closely followed the formula set out by the others – They meet up, they have their seperate adventures and they come together at the end with lessons learnt about life and love. Throw in some overseas travel for good measure. It’s a format that has worked for the other books and worked well for this one too.

It’s an odd thing revisiting the literary friends of your youth and have them grow up without you. I am glad that Ann Brashares wrote a conclusion to the sisterhood’s story.

Rating: 

3 out of 5

Purchase book at:

Book Depository / Amazon FishPond

Book Review: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Book Review: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter (Goddess Test #1)

Format: paperback

First Published: April 19th, 2011

Genre: Young Adult, Mythology, teen romance

Synopsis (from Goodreads)It’s always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

Review: 

I was excited to read this book – I love stories with their basis in mythology and young adult fiction is a guilty pleasure of mine. However this is not the story of Hades and his bride as I’ve ever read it before. Aimee Carter has taken the classic story and cleaned it up a bit – sanitized it for today’s audiences. The gods and goddesses that appear in this novel are far from the raping, incestuous and scandalous beings I’m familiar with. But that’s not altogether a bad thing. Yes, there are so many differences that these characters barely even resymbol their other selves, but I found that I was drawn so far into this story that it didn’t matter to me that it wasn’t what I was expecting.

In many ways this book reminded me of a cross between Lauren Kate’s Fallen series and the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. Girl moves to a new town where she seems to have a legacy she doesn’t quite know the truth behind. And then she sacrifices her freedom for someone she cares about to live in a mansion with a dark and mysterious captor. I had to stop myself from comparing the staff at Henry’s house with the magical enchanted household items that kept the Beast’s castle running in Beauty and the Beast. Despite the similarities, The Goddess Test managed to entertain me and surprise me. There were times when I couldn’t understand Kate’s actions and decisions but I liked her perseverance.

I liked time span of the novel. The romance was not rushed and whirlwind – it progressed at a pace that felt natural and right but at the same time I didn’t feel like anything was dragged out. The only problem I had was with Ava and James being Kate’s best friends after only two weeks… A little rushed but considering Kate’s been a full time carer for the past four years, I’ll forgive her the rushing their friendship.

I’m most interested in the sequel. This novel does stand alone rather well. There are hints at where the series might decide to go but I have to admit I liked how this instalment finished.

 

Rating: 

3.5 out of 5

Purchase book at:

Book Depository / Amazon FishPond