Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Review- A Really Awesome Mess (Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin)


A Really Awesome Mess

Synopsis

Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.

Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.


Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog-- and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.


Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.


A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.          - Goodreads.com

My Review 


A really awesome mess is a difficult one for me to review. One half of me enjoyed this book, devouring almost half of it in one sitting, but the other half of me saw that the book was rife with poor understanding of the conditions that the authors were discussing.

The book itself is about Emmy and Justin, and is told in each of their perspectives. They have both been sent to a reform school…or so the blurb indicates. But Heartland Academy is much less a reform school and more a facility for teens who are suffering from an array of mental illnesses. Emmy has developed anorexia after a bad break-up, while Justin has been suffering from depression and also made an attempt on his own life.

There are plenty of mixed reviews on Goodreads, and I can definitely see why. A lot of people seem to be upset at the way the authors portrays some mental illnesses. However in the same instance I don’t believe it was the author’s intention to give us a meaningful insight into these disorders, so that we could come out the other side with a deeper understanding of what these diseases are. I feel like the book focused more on the bonds and friendships that were formed between the characters despite their differences and commonalities. If this was the authors intention she succeeded. For me there was a great sense of companionship between all the kids in the Heartland Academy group.

As for the main characters at first I really didn’t like Emmy, she was just too up herself, and for me and just didn’t seem to fit the anorexic/bulimia profile that I expected. She came off as a spoilt brat, who liked to fat shame other people in her head. 

"I stared at her like she was from another planet. To me, she actually was: The Planet F-A-T. I felt sorry for her. If I still felt this bad after losing twenty pounds, she must absolutely despise herself."
Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin (A Really Awesome Mess)

Personally, I always thought anorexia was more of an inward distortion of your own body image rather than an outward view of others bodies as well as your own…but then again maybe there’s a spectrum and Emmy just sits at a different place than I was expecting.

As for Justin, his character kind of grew on me. I felt like he got somewhere by the end, like he had made this small dent in his journey to helping himself get better. 

"How do you get through it?” He was asking about my latest downturn, but I guessed the question could apply to life, too. And I didn’t know the answer."
Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin (A Really Awesome Mess)

Overall the book wasn't quite what I had expected. I thought it was going to be about naughty reform school kids getting up to all sorts of mischief, I still got the naughty  mischief part, but with a lot more heart than I was expecting. 

Things I loved about the book:

  • The camaraderie between the Heartland kids, and the misadventures they got up to.  

Things I didn't love about the book:

  • The seemingly simple and glanced over conditions of the characters. I felt there could have been more depth there, even if the authors weren't aiming for that kind of book.

My rating: 3/5

Do you ever go into a book expecting one thing and getting something completely different?

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Review- Of Beast and Beauty (Stacey Jay)

Of Beast and Beauty

Synopsis


In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.
Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe. 
As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.          - Goodreads.com


My Review 


Of Beast and Beauty is a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast but with an almost dystopia feel to it with the added undertows of an Asian background (or maybe it was just the names that threw me.) Unlike the original, in this story the beast is held captive, by the Princess after attempting to steal roses from the sacred garden in the domed city of Yuan. Which he believes to be the salvation of his people who are slowly dying out in the desert.

Isra; the Princess of our tale, has so many elements to her. Being blind, has meant that she has been hidden and held captive from the city by her father for most of her life. Upon his death and her success to the throne she is still constantly kept in the dark. She is seen as weak and unable to truly rule a city. However despite this weakness, her character is defiant and strong and lives her own life in spite of her disability. Every night she rebelliously crawls out of her tower to visit the sacred garden and explore a city where she has never been truly accepted due to her slightly monstrous deformities. She even ventures outside of the domed walls of her city to help her people, in search of a cure for the monstrous deformities plaguing some of its civilians.
 
Gem; our beast, our monster, is deeply complex. His character develops so much over the course of the book. In the beginning when he is captured, all he wants it to escape and fulfil his duty of stealing roses from the sacred garden to help save his people who are nicknamed the ‘monstrous’ by the domed and live outside the city walls. He hates Isra and all that she and her city stand for. He thinks that she is selfish and na├»ve to the world. However after spending to with one another, he sees that she is nothing like the people who truly rule the city and wants to help her.

"Its pointless. Hopeless. Even if she weren't afraid of me, we'll always be enemies at the core. She rules a wicked, selfish city, and my tribe suffers for her peoples comfort. Shes a queen; I'm her prisoner. I resent her and she fears me, and there are times when I fear her, too. I am her monster, and she is mine. But right now none of it matters."
Stacey Jay (Of Beast and Beauty)

The book is told from two perspectives, which means you really get into the minds of each character, understanding their motives, their hopes, their feelings. Both of the characters are written extraordinarily, and they each grow and develop so much throughout the book. The romance between them is not overdone, and is sweet and buddy like a rose. 


Things I loved about the book:

  • The intro was beautifully written and explained how the division between the Monstrous and city inhabitants came to be, and how the curse began.
  • The slow developing romance, that happened gradually and authentically.
  • While the curse differed from the original, the symbolism still remained. 

My rating: 4/5


Do you like reading re-tellings? What is your favorite fairy tale?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Feature and Follow (14)


Here's this weeks question:

 

Do you own any doubles of your books? What led to getting that second...third...or fourth copy?

At the moment I don't actually have any double ups that I can think of. Mostly I have double ups on my shelf if I find a book I want in a second hand store, and then later find the same book in better condition. Sometimes I also get double ups if I've brought a book online and it's arrived damaged in the post, then I usually donate the damaged copies. 


Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The purpose is to meet new people and gain more followers in the book blogging community.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (14)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the amazing Broke And The Bookish.


Top Ten 2014 Releases I meant to Read But Didn't Get to


Uh I had such a big long list of books that I wanted to read last year, but unfortunately there were quite a few that I didn't get to, that I really wish I had. However there's always this year, and some of these are definitely near the top of my TBR pile.

The Treatment (The Program, #2)Ashes to Ashes (Burn for Burn, #3)
So both of these are sequels in series that I absolutely adored. Ashes to Ashes is the last book in the Burn for Burn trilogy, which hopefully will answer all my questions, when I finally get around to it. The treatment on the other hand is the second book to 'The Programme', which was one of my favorite books of 2013. Both of these I wish I had gotten around to last year.

17 First KissesIsla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)Better Off Friends
To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)Since You've Been Gone
These all look like great contemporaries which I wish I had gotten to last year. Almost all of them I have heard fabulous things about, which makes me want to read them even more. Hopefully I will get around to some if not all of these this year.
PanicWe Were LiarsRebel Belle (Rebel Belle, #1)
These last 3 are also books I've seen around heaps, and heard good things about. I've heard that We Were Liars is best not to read too much about and go into it blind for maximum enjoyment, therefore I have tried to avoid spoiler reviews for a whole year... which is very difficult. Rebel Belle is on my list of near future reads, and Panic, I feel I'm sure to enjoy as I've enjoyed the authors previous books.

What 2014 releases do you wish you'd gotten around to? Any plans to them this year?

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Feature and Follow (13)


Here's this weeks question:

 

Do you have any fun collections (Other than Books)? 

Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The purpose is to meet new people and gain more followers in the book blogging community.







Books are probably my biggest collection. Although, I do have quite a large collection of DVD's and  TV series. The only other thing that I collect which pops to mind is Buffy the Vampire Slayer paraphernalia. I have every season on DVD, plus books, comics, calendars, diaries etc. I use to be a huge Buffy nerd ...and still kind of am!




Friday, 9 January 2015

Review- Premeditated (Josin L. Mcquein)


Premeditated 

Synopsis

A week ago, Dinah’s cousin Claire cut her wrists.
Five days ago, Dinah found Claire’s diary and discovered why.
Three days ago, Dinah stopped crying and came up with a plan.
Two days ago, she ditched her piercings and bleached the black dye from her hair.
Yesterday, knee socks and uniform plaid became a predator’s camouflage.
Today, she’ll find the boy who broke Claire.
By tomorrow, he’ll wish he were dead.


  Goodreads.com


My Review 


When  I first added this book to my TBR there was more than a year to wait until its release. During this wait more and more books were added to the list, and by the time the book was released the excitement had kind of worn off. Forward another year later and I finally got around to reading it, as luck just happened to place it at my local library, bringing it back to the forefront of my mind and reminding me of all the suspense and anticipation I had felt reading the blurb that first time, and boy was it worth the wait.

The book focuses around Dinah and her plan to exact vengeance on the rich prep school boy who broke her cousins heart, driving her to attempt to take her own life. While her cousin remains in critical condition in the hospital, Dinah along with the help of her two misfit friends begin down the dark road of revenge. Dinah starts off be enrolling in her cousins prep school, and completely changing herself in order to fit in with the rich kids, in hopes of befriending the boy in question so she can fulfill her plans of making his life a living hell. But not everyone appears as they seem, and sometimes the devil you think you know, may not be the devil at all.

"Killing someone's easier than you think. All it takes is a decision, aim and follow through...Revenge on the other hand, and I mean real, calculated, make him sorry he was ever born vengeance, takes time, planning, and patience."
Josin L. Mcquein (Premeditated)

One thing I really liked about Dinah's character, besides the fact that she's pretty badass, is that despite wanting revenge she has a moral compass. It's like there's a war that's going on inside her; kind of a devil and angel on the shoulder scenario which the author writes so perfectly. On one hand she wants to protect her cousin and cause pain to the boy who hurt her, but on the other she knows that on some level two wrongs don't make a right, and causing more pain won't help her cousin.

The plot twist was relatively easy to pick up, I wasn't sure what it was exactly but I had a fair idea. Although the author kept me reading right till the end, eager to see how everything was going to be revealed in the end. The book definitely had elements of suspense and mystery, maybe not quite as much as the synopsis leads you to believe, and it all had a rather 'John Tucker Must Die' feel to it but a little edgier with darker undertows. 

Overall I really enjoyed the book. I liked the authors writing style, and the last few paragraphs of the book were just the perfect way to end it. 

Things I loved about the book:

  • The main characters internal struggle with the morality of what she is doing wa sfantastic and completely believable. I liked that she wasn't just a robot doing things without some semblance of a conscience. 
  • The ending! Both the plot twist and the last couple paragraphs.

Things I didn't so much like about the book:

  •  There were parts that were a little slow, but the mystery kept you going. 

My rating: 5/5
 

If you wanted to get someone back, how would you go about it?


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (13)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the amazing Broke And The Bookish.


Top Ten Most Anticipated Debut Novels For 2015


So I decided to change it up a little, and not just feature debuts in my list. Some of themse are sequels, others are debut authors, and some are authors that are part of my staple reading diet. Most of them are YA contemporary , but there are definitely some fantasy books I am looking forward to this year!! Most of these are just releases from January - June, and hopefully I'll do another one mid-year of the releases from July- December. 

99 DaysI Was Here
So I haven't yet read books by either of these authors, but I've heard a lot of good stuff about both of them and these both look like great books to get stuck into. 

ConfessLast Year's Mistake
Colleen Hoover is just one of those readers I will forever read. So naturally her latest release is on my list. 
Last years Mistake sounds right up my ally, it's also told in alternating perspectives which I love.


Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)Crimson Bound
I'm feeling starved of good fantasy at the moment, and I feel that these 3 will satisfy that craving. Crimson Bound is a retelling of Red Riding Hood, told in the same world as Cruel Beauty which I adored. While I have not read Sarah J Maas' other series, I am eager for her new release. Red Queen I believe is by a debut author, and I'm excited to read it after seeing a lot of good reviews on GR.

The Night We Said YesEnd of Days (Penryn & the End of Days, #3)The Fill-In Boyfriend
Angelfall was amazing, especially the smoldering male lead *cough* *cough*, and I'm hoping to re-read the series just before the 3rd book comes out. As for the other 2 they just look like great YA contemporaries that are perfect for summer reading.

What books are you most looking forward to in 2015? Debut or otherwise?

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Review- Anatomy of a Boyfriend (Daria Snadowsky)


Anatomy of a Boyfriend (Anatomy, #1)

Synopsis

Before this all happened, the closest I'd ever come to getting physical with a guy was playing the board game Operation. Okay, so maybe that sounds pathetic, but it's not like there were any guys at my high school who I cared to share more than three words with, let alone my body.

Then I met Wes, a track star senior from across town. Maybe it was his soulful blue eyes, or maybe my hormones just started raging. Either way, I was hooked. And after a while, he was too. I couldn't believe how intense my feelings became, or the fact that I was seeing—and touching—parts of the body I'd only read about in my Gray's Anatomy textbook. You could say Wes and I experienced a lot of firsts together that spring. It was scary. It was fun. It was love.
And then came the fall.
  Goodreads.com


My Review

Hearing that this book had been compared to ‘Forever’ by Judy Blume, I was literally brimming with excitement. I first read Forever at the tender age of 12 as an inexperienced tween, who got excited at the mere hint of a ‘naughty’ scene in a book…and well Judy Blume’s Forever definitely delivered on that account. However Anatomy of a Boyfriend just didn’t quite do it for me. I think before I even picked it up I knew that this book just wasn’t going to be for me, but I’d seen it around plenty and thought I would give it a shot anyway.

To start the main character was whiny and completely lovesick, and reading from her perspective was frustrating. What probably annoyed me the most though was the instant puppy love, which developed quickly into the main character feeling she was falling in love with the male protagonist. I realise though that having read this book at my current age of wisdom and life experience (yes the ripe old age of 24) incites a clearly different reaction than my 12 year old self who no doubt would have devoured this book and all its naughty bits…..which I didn’t even get up to because I just couldn’t keep reading for the sheer will to live. 

Overall, this may have been a great book. But it clearly wasn’t aimed at my age group, and I obviously lack the skill to retrograde back into my tweens where I more than likely would have enjoyed it. 

My rating: 1/5 (DNF)
 

Friday, 2 January 2015

2014; A Year in Review


So 2015 is upon us, and boy did last year go quickly. In my personal life I feel like I accomplished so much last year that I can be proud of. I finished my diploma in Veterinary Nursing, I traveled to a third world country and volunteered with animals, and I managed to get a temporary job for a couple of months at a veterinary clinic. However because my year was so hectic, I feel I really dropped the ball blogging wise and even reading wise. The year started out ok, but by April I just wasn't able to keep up with the work this blog required, along with school and a part-time job. 

However it is a new year, and blogging is just something that I miss having in my life. Despite not blogging for most of last year, I did think about it often and after finishing a book I wanted to share my thoughts about, I was often motivated to write a review, but just lacked the time. So this year one of my biggest goals is to try and get back into blogging, even if that means just posting once a week, 

2014 Statistics


Number of Books Read:43

Not as many as I had hoped for but still a decent effort.

Longest and Shortest Book Read

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)Saga, Volume 2 (Saga #7-12)

Top 5 of 2014

All of these were super awesome, whether it was the world building, the characters or just the story, they all blew my socks off. .

Saga, Volume 1 (Saga #1-6)PremeditatedHopeless (Hopeless, #1)

This Song Will Save Your LifePerfect Ruin (Internment Chronicles, #1)

Series Finished in 2014

My goal had been to finish off more series this year, and I had even joined a specific challenge for it. Hopefully this year I'll get around to crossing off a few more.


Guardian (Proxy, #2)Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3)

Saga, Volume 1 (Saga #1-6)Anatomy of a Boyfriend (Anatomy, #1)

DNF Book 

This book just really wasn't for me..

Favourite Couple

Alana and Marko are the cutest!



2015 Goals


AroundTheWorld2015So this year my goal is to read at least 30 books, although I'm likely to increase it as the year goes on. I'm going to be participating again in the A-Z challenge- which last year I managed to read 13/26 of (Hoping to get all 26 this year), and also aiming to finish 5 series (not sure which ones yet, but I have a giant list to choose from :P).

I'll also be joining in the 'Around the World ' challenge hosted by All About Books. Where you create a google map and place pins on the various countries that reading takes you. If you want to find out more about it click here.

Most of all I just want to get back into blogging, and writing reviews again, since I've missed it so much in the last couple months. 





So what were your achievements in 2014, reading or otherwise? and what is your main goal for 2015? 




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