Tag Archives: love

The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater
Book Reviews
April 30, 2012 posted by Jocie

The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

“It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

 

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

 

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen”

 

The Scorpio Races was filled with mythology, romance and violence.

 

The story itself is centred around Kate “Puck” Connelly and Sean Kendrick, two teenagers at the start of a romance despite the foreboding arrival of the Scorpio Races, a race of deadly water horses.

 

The premise of the book was intriguing and the capaill uisce mythology was fascinating. Scorpio Races really delves into that and ensures that the reader knew everything about the water horses. With that in mind, Stiefvater did a fantastic job of creating the small island of Thisby and makes the island seem almost real. I really got the small town feeling from it, with all the characters knowing each other from childhood and so forth. It was almost like a character itself.

 

The characters were, as well unique and were easy to relate to. I really got involved in their stories and enjoyed listening to them. Despite this, however, I did occasionally have trouble with the point of views. There were times when I had completely forgotten whether it was Puck’s or Sean’s character who was narrating.

 

The writing however was purely lyrical. It swept me in completely and was just lovely. It did not however, help the pacing of the book. I found it very hard to stay concentrated while reading a large portion of the book. While I liked how the two main characters weren’t swept up in a fit of insta-love, I just wish that the story wasn’t so laid-back.

 

Overall, while there were parts that I adored, I found the pacing at times painfully slow and that really let the book down for me. If you enjoy a poetic read that is very much character driven this book is for you.

 

Pages: 416

Publication Date: 18th October 2011

Publisher: Scholastic

Challenge: n/a

Rating: : ★★★☆☆

Quote: “—”…I’m sorry. I’ve overstepped. It’s not my business. Let’s go. Pretend I didn’t say anything.”

-But he did say something, and it can’t be unsaid.”

Stresshead – Allayne Webster
Book Reviews
December 27, 2011 posted by Jocie

Stresshead – Allayne Webster

“OMG. Year 11 results are out TODAY, my boyfriend is MIA and my mum is acting TOTALLY WEIRD. I’d turn to my BF Kat, that her life has suddenly gone from hero to ZERO. I don’t know who to talk to an everyone’s got their OWN problems. What would life be better if I wasn’t such a STRESSHEAD?”

 

Stresshead is a light, easy read that is very, very Australian. Told in the voice of Dennie, we learn about her woes with life and pressure to live up to expectations.

I largely liked this book. I related to Dennie (real name: Denise) easily and quickly (I am a huge chronic worrier), however she sort of got on my nerves occasionally with her internal voice. I liked all of the characters. They were all colourful, unique and fiery. Admittedly, I was a little confused in the first few pages; so many characters are introduced so quickly. But I loved the atmosphere, Webster really got the right feeling to it; it felt like a real family.

The plot felt like it was trying to go in ten different directions. It was trying to be funny, yet serious, yet growing up. This led to confusion. The pacing, as well, was also very cruisey – I didn’t feel any inclination to read chapter after chapter.

However, the author really got the voice of a teenage girl, and the writing was good. There were moments when the things Den worried over were so silly they were funny.

Unfortunately, the setting of Sydney wasn’t really used. While the Australian-ess of it all was obvious, I didn’t really get a feel for anything except the feeling when the family are together.

The family, itself is a very, very important element in the book. It really brings home and collects all the mistakes. In their own dysfunctional way, Dennie’s family truly show the essence of family. I applaud Allayne Webster for that.

Overall, Stresshead is an enjoyable book that ensures you that no matter how screwed up you think your family is, the fictional ones are ten times more.

 

Pages: 213

Publication Date: May 1st 2011

Publisher: Omnibus Books

Challenge: n/a

Rating: : ★★★☆☆

Quote: “I’m toast. I’m burnt toast. I’m the charcoal you scrape off the toast with your knife”

Book Reviews
December 18, 2011 posted by Christina

Glow – Amy Kathleen Ryan

“A ship heading for New Earth is halfway through its incredible journey across the galaxy. On board, sixteen-year-olds Waverly and Kieran are part of the first generation born in space.

They are in love.

They believe their future is written in the stars.

They have never seen a stranger before…until the day they are wrenched apart and suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives.”

——————————

Behind the beautiful cover, Glow is a thrilling story told in alternating perspective between Waverly Marshall and Kieran Alden. Their lives on board the Empyrean spaceship had always been peaceful, with their biggest concern being when they should get married…until they faced an unprecedented attack from their sister ship the New Horizon.

In amongst the chaos of the attack the girls are separated from the boys and whisked away to the New Horizon. With Waverly and Kieran apart they fight hard not just to stay alive but to find a way back to each other.

Before starting this book I’d heard many comparisons thrown around, everything from The Hunger Games to Across the Universe, and though I can see where there might be similarities, Glow does stand on its own.

I had fairly mixed feelings about Glow, by the end, I did really enjoy it, it definitely hooks you in once you become familiar with the setting and characters but the turn of events especially with how they affected some characters left me unsure as to how I felt about them.

I was surprised by how strongly religion is used in Glow and though at times it came across as quite preachy especially from characters like Anne Mather and Kieran, it’s contrasted by Waverly and other members of the Empyrean. It would’ve been better if there more characters in the middle rather than characters who were totally with the religion or totally against it because it tends to force the reader to pick a side as well.

During their time apart Waverly and Kieran each had dark and difficult experiences that have left lasting impressions, some more horrifying than others.  Each character proved their strength, both mentally and physically but by the end, I found Waverly to be more likeable than Kieran because his transformation into the ship’s more or less spiritual leader made him seem very different to the boy he was in the beginning and made you lose that initial connection with him.

Seth was another character I had a hard time connecting with just because it was hard to figure out if we’re meant to sympathize with him or not. The same goes with Anne Mather, I wanted to believe her reasoning for her choices but some of her actions made me unsure.

It was clear that Amy Kathleen Ryan wasn’t afraid to push her characters to their limit and it’ll be interesting to see those repercussions and how they’ll affect their relationships with one another in the next book.

For the sci-fi fans this book definitely gives an awesome insight into what living in space would be like. Perhaps not with as much detail as Across the Universe, but still covers things quite well.

Though I didn’t love it, Glow was definitely enjoyable and worth a read.

Pages: 307
Publication Date: October 2011
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Challenge: n/a
Rating: : ★★★½☆

Teaser Quote: “It was true, Kieran realized later that night, alone in the darkness, hungry and aching, and missing Waverly. He was very afraid.”

Book Reviews
November 29, 2011 posted by Jocie

Imaginary Girls – Nova Ren Suma

“Ruby said I’d never drown – not in the deep ocean, not by the shipwreck, not even by falling drunk into someone’s bottomless backyard pool … It sounded impossible, something no one would believe if anyone other than Ruby were the one to tell it. But Ruby was right: The body found that night wouldn’t be, couldn’t be mine.

Chloe’s older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can’t be captured or caged. After a night with Ruby’s friends goes horrible wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away – away from home, away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns home at last, she finds a precarious and deadly balance waiting for her. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.”

—————————————

It has been weeks since I finished reading this. Literally, weeks, and I still have no idea how to explain it? Is it contemporary, or is it paranormal? Or is it a mixture of both? This mess of a masterpiece leaves you thinking, literally, for weeks on end.

Chloe discovers fellow classmate, London’s body in the reservoir and is quickly stowed off to her father’s, leaving her best friend and sister, Ruby behind. Two years later, Chloe is back, and things are very different. So different that London has managed to come back from the dead.

I have no idea of what I think about the plot. The plot is so many things, and yet so few things as well. It’s a basic story of sisterhood, yet the underlying themes and added extras to the story make it so much more (and even more confusing). Despite having no real idea about the plot, it was an enthralling read that enchanted my eyes every single page of the way.

I’ll admit that at first, I really didn’t like Chloe, or Ruby. Both of them really, really annoyed me. Chloe seemed like the typical tag-along little sister, and Ruby just seemed stuck up, and both really frustrated me to no end. But their development was astounding and once I better understood them, it was much more intriguing. Despite the fact that I still had issues with Chloe by the end of the book, her whimsical narration was powerful, as well as unforgettable.

This leads me on to the writing. The writing, much a like Wither is so very lyrical. Executed beautifully, and quietly compelling, the writing was something out of a fairy tale with a very subtly haunting undertone. There’s really no other words for it except hauntingly lyrical.

This novel, in all its plotting mess, is a mesmerising and poignant read. With its strange characters, and off-kilter attitude, Imaginary Girls is an insanely good read for the weird. Or, really anybody.

 

Pages: 348
Publication Date : June 201
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Challenge: n/a
Rating: : ★★★★★

 

Book Reviews
November 23, 2011 posted by Christina

Starcrossed – Josephine Angelini

“Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.”

————————————-

Like most lovers of YA fiction, I’m a fan of paranormal romance/urban fantasy. Some stories are amazing, others are….well, lacklustre or cheesy. It’s the not so great stories that then make us PR/UF fans a bit wary when approaching a new story, which was my reaction to first receiving Josephine Angelini’s debut, Starcrossed. The beautiful cover and interesting blurb however won me over and I gave it a shot.

The story centres on Helen Hamilton who, till the Delos family showed up, lived a fairly mundane existence. Upon seeing Lucas Delos for the first time some readers might suspect an instant attraction between the two – you’re half right. Seeing him fills Helen with an overwhelming, all consuming and inexplicable urge….to kill him. And the feeling is mutual.

Which can be problematic when you’re meant to be classmates with someone.

What Helen doesn’t realize is that her life is influenced by the Fates, which leads her to discover not just where she came from, but what’s in store, and the Delos family is only one piece of the puzzle.

My problem with Starcrossed was that I didn’t really enjoy the first half of the book. Helen annoyed me like crazy – her intense shyness, being desperate to fade into the background, she just came across as very weak. There were moments that were predictable or cheesy and I even had a ‘man this is so Twilight moment’ (I know, I know, authors hate Twilight references, sorry!).

However!

After the halfway point things started to get interesting – very interesting. Helen’s character had a total turn around and the twists in the plot only made things so much more exciting. The ending was heart stopping and dramatic, it’ll leave you dying for more once it’s over. There’s so much left hanging in the end it’ll be interesting to see how it will all unfold in the next book.

I loved the mix of Greek mythology, bringing it into a modern setting, it was really well done and totally fascinating to read. The romantic side of the story was also really great but also a lot more complicated than you might expect.

Though Starcrossed and I didn’t get off to a good start, by the end, I really liked it. Mythology, family conflict, fate, a dramatic cliffhanger ending and of course, lurrrrve, Starcrossed has all the right elements for a great read.

Pages: 487
Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Challenge: Debut Author
Rating: : ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote:   “He’s not going around telling everyone you’re monkey-butt crazy, so at least you brutalized a seriously sweet guy.”

Book Reviews
July 14, 2011 posted by Christina

The Peril of Magnificent Love – Emma Magenta

“A small girl called Magenta seeks love with a three-eared bunny and pursues a course to win him. Much to her chagrin she discovers the path is fraught with illusion and disillusion. Perhaps dancing will help?”

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When I first read this book it was about a year or two ago and I was in the middle of a not very interesting class at college. A girl I knew pulled out this book saying she bought it over the weekend, and soon enough a small group of us gathered around to read what looked like a very cute picture book.

The Peril Of Magnificent Love follows a young girl named Magenta as she tries to get the attention of a three eared bunny she’s in love with. Sounds pretty sweet, no? It’s 100% sweet but it’s also completely surprising.

At just under 100 pages the story is simple but the language is beautiful and lyrical. The illustrations are childlike but completely clever and at times metaphorical. The characters are ADORABLE, in particular Magenta’s favorite tree which she decided to leave behind to pursue her magnificent love. But love, Magenta soon finds out, isn’t always as it seems and sometimes we see people only how we want to not for what they are.

Even though I first read it so long ago, I had to get a copy for myself. The Peril of Magnificent Love will sneak into your heart with its childlike illustrations but it’s very grown up message about the love that’s around you that we don’t always see and the love you need to find within you. If you’ve ever been deceived in love by one too many ‘foxes’ then you’ll definitely appreciate this.

I loved this book more than I can express and I can’t help but smile every time I see it on my shelf.

Pages: 96
Publication Date: October 2004
Publisher: Random House
Challenge: n/a
Rating: : ★★★★☆

Teaser quote: “Overcome by these new delights, she made an invocation of gratitude to the supreme deity for creating a situation where her biggest love,
deepest secrets
and superb eccentricities
were soon to be understood by a perfect other.”

 

*Look out for other books by Emma Magenta which are similar in style – The Gorgeous Sense of Hope (which I bought the other day, loved it) and The Origin of Lament.

Book Reviews
March 11, 2011 posted by Christina

Falling Under – Gwen Hayes

“Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life, but when a devastatingly handsome boy appears at her school, she feels every urge she’s ever denied burning through her at his slightest glance.

Theia does not understand why she dreamed of Haden Black before they met, but as the Haden of both the day and the night beckons her forward, Theia knows she cannot resist him – even when she discovers what he truly is; and even if the cost of that knowledge is her soul.”

It’s not every day you see a burning man fall out of the sky.

When Theia Alderson witnesses that exact sight she almost convinces herself it was all a dream….or more like a nightmare, because there’s a huge scorch mark on her lawn the next morning from where he landed.

From that moment there’s a shift in the air, announcing something strange and wrong is starting to take place at Serendipity Falls. When Theia dreams that night of a beautiful boy at a party accompanied by skeletons, serenaded by faceless musicians, she couldn’t have been more shocked to find that same boy, Haden, at her school the next day.

But what does he want with Theia? What is it about him that makes Theia want to be with him so badly. She knows it’s dangerous, but she can’t help herself…

Falling Under is a novel that in the end I had a love/hate relationship with.

There was a lot in it that I found very interesting. The world of Under – where Theia would meet Haden in her dreams, was completely fascinating in a dark twisted kind of way and excellently creepy. It made me think of Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton style but even darker.

I also really loved the concept of the demons and the travelling between worlds (which was done so well), and was very relieved that there wasn’t a love triangle in sight (phew).

The writing was easy to read and drew me in to the story, meaning that even when I put it down I was still thinking about it, itching to get back, wanting to know what would happen next.

What disappointed me were the two main characters.

I just wasn’t sold on their “love” for each other – their attraction was based on…I don’t know? Haden was spying/stalking Theia for a while before travelling to her world to find her, and Theia likes Haden based on the rush of emotions she feels when she sees him. This is despite his hot/cold emotions or that he’s kind of ass to her for a lot of the book in an attempt to push her away.

It also felt a bit too Twilight for me. From Haden calling Theia ‘lamb’, to the need to hold back on affection, the (I’m paraphrasing here) ‘you should stay away from me if you were smart’ and ‘I’m a bad guy but I can’t stay away from you’, among other things. Heck, at one point even Theia acknowledges the conversation is heading in a Twilight direction, with even a bit of New Moon seen later on in the book.

Although, let me tell you their kissing scenes were excellent. You’ll probably need to stop and fan yourself for a minute because their sexual tension practically sizzles on the page.

Theia, we’re often told, is level headed and rational thanks to her strict upbringing from her cold father, but all we see is Theia making totally irrational choices when it comes to Haden. Other than dating a guy who came to this world to do her harm (which she doesn’t seem to factor in), she basically knows nothing about him since he’s perpetually being cryptic and mysterious, at least when he’s not busy being jealous or an ass. Yet in a short space of time she’s in love and willing to lay down her soul for him. Why?? Other than give you attention and a fuzzy feeling in your gut, what’s this guy actually done for you lately Theia? She should’ve shown Haden the door and gone for someone like Gabe.

Anyway, enough with the negativity, as the storyline throws in an interesting twist at the end it really gets things going and we’re left with quite a cliffhanger. Even though Mara is the bad guy in the story, she’s a total badass and I was quite interested by how her mind worked and what her next move will be.

Falling Under is a dark and twisted love story and if you’re a hopeless romantic, you’ll probably love it. If you’re a bit pickier with your love affairs, this might not be to your liking. Only one way to find out…

Pages: 324
Publication Date: March 2011
Publisher: Penguin
Challenge: Debut Author
Rating: : ★★★☆☆

Teaser Quote: “And then, slowly, like a feather caught on a light breeze, he willowed past my window, turning his grotesque head towards me, his mouth open in a silent scream. He was more than on fire. He was fire.”