Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Courtesan's Lover by Gabrielle Kim

The Courtesan's Lover

This is a historical story set in the beautiful Tuscany. The visuals given by the writing were vivid and aesthetic. The writing was of a high standard, had picturesque depictions, and each of the characters were thoroughly developed, each with a detailed sub plot. 

I enjoyed reading the story until a third of the way through. I had reached a point where the plot became too paced and tame, and then I lost interest. I read a spoiler review to see if the book was to me, worth finishing, but when I seen where the storyline goes, I ended up not picking the my copy back up.

It just didn't make sense to me that the first 30% of the book was about the young virgin son (forgotten his name) get close to, and fall in love with the mysterious courtesan, Francesca, and for them to share such intimacy, then for her to marry his father. That is why I didn't carry on finishing the book. Useless plotting.

I can see why people would like this book, but it just wasn't for me, and the plot spoiled it to the point where I didn't want to finish it. Needless to say, because of the high quality of the writing and the technical side of the literature, plus the fact that I think Gabrielle Kim is a talented writer, I give this three stars.

The Coincidence Of Callie And Kayden by Jessica Sorensen

Rating: 3.25*
The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden (The Coincidence, #1)

I liked it.
Not a four star however, for the following reasons:

1) It didn't blow me away.

2) The quality of the writing was okay but not notable. Standard.

3) The concept was nothing exceptional to about 20 other books I've read this year. Neither was the sub plot.

4) I don't get that feeling I'd ever want to read it again.

5) It didn't make me cry or get emotional. Not like books with touching issues such as this one usually do. I blame myself. Maybe I've just overindulged on these sort of books.

I did like the characters though, but I feel like the secondary characters were more rounded than the primary characters. Luke had a dry sense of humour and made me laugh, and Seth was a brilliant friend with such a distinct personality, and reminded me of my gay guy friend from high school. 

I like the tactic that the author used which was to finish the book without conclusion, to draw readers into wanting to read the second book, though I'm undecided if I'm going to read book 2 yet. Since a quarter of the way into the book, I was waiting for it to kick in and make it amazing, but it just didn't happen. I also had high expectations (5* worthy-The Sea of Tranquility-high) because of the pretty good average rating and because nearly all of my Goodreads friends who've read it, all gave it a five star.

Now I'm sorry here, but before I leave, I have to say it: I think it's overrated. Good, but overrated.

The extra .25 added onto my rating is for the beautiful cover which I really love.

Addicted To Him by Lauren Dodd

Rating: 4*

This is going to be more of a ranting review regarding my reaction to the themes and content of the book. Having past experiences with physical and verbal abuse, and having seen female members of my family suffer because of male aggression and violence towards women, I feel very strongly about these subjects, particularly within the second half of the story. 

I won't go into depth describing the plot but in brief, Addicted to Him is the story of the 18 year old Cassidy who, having suffered a great ordeal of dysfunctional and cruel relationships and abuse from: Her boyfriend, best friend, mother, "step-grandparents", and step father; she stays with her biological father for the summer in a vouch to get away from it all. 

There, she meets and unexpectedly falls in love with Seth, who she can relate to on an emotional level. Seth heals her in ways she didn't think possible. As their relationship rapidly intensifies and her addiction to her boyfriend heightens, she (and we as the reader) find that he is not the person we thought he was.

Addicted to Him

I have to say that at first, I suspected there was something not right about him. This was hinted at in the way that he spoke (shouted, really) at his baby sister when she made an innocent and child like remark to Cassidy. Then I started to really like him. I respected him for the situation he was left in. I expected him to be like every other perfect but supposedly flawed male character that is out there in the NA area of literature. When I read that he punched a guy to the ground when the guy had been advancing upon Cassidy with unwanted attention, I rolled my eyes thinking "So he's one of those guys...again."  Turns out, he was a genuine pyscho!

How wrong was I? Well. We begin to see Seth's demeanor gradually change towards Cassidy when, out of the blue, he hits her. In a one time ounce of jealousy, we see him become a possessive monster who threatens to kill her if she ever leaves him. I was so frustrated that she automatically forgave him, though he was hardly remorseful, even after knowing everything she had suffered with in the past. He then conveniently passed his aggression off for the same old excuse of "having a bad day at work". It was more worrying to me that he was so nonchalant about the whole event and did not grovel in any way or form. What made me even more angry with the characters was that 30 seconds later,[ he proposes and expects her to accept. And of course, she does.  I've seen this so many times. Girls get knocked about, their boyfriend apologizes, promises to never do it again, but then of course does. My mam made me promise if a man so much as acted outwardly aggressive even in the same room as me, that I flee and not make the same mistake she did. The truth that people need to realize is that when they say they'll change or get help, whether they believe it or not, they won't.

The thing that angers me the most, is that while Cassidy accepted and dealt with Seth's physical and verbal abuse,and covered the marks he left, the only thing that actually made her leave him was when he slept with another girl.
What. The. Fuck.
She even admitted that while she can put with his abuse, she can not live with having to compete with another girl. 
 Am I missing something here? This girl is seriously damaged to the core.

Anyway, things carry out as there is more physical abuse and fornication. I worried that the author was going to make the incredibly bad and cliche decision of making Seth some what redeemable. It is safe to say, I have never been more relieved and pleased that this book did not have a fairy tale ending. Thank God. I'm also glad that in the end, Cassidy made the only right decision. Never the less, I won't lower my rating albeit how irritated I was with the characters decisions, because that would be close minded. The story was real life stuff. Situations like this occur all the time. The story was not happy, but honest. It told the truth, which is all I ever want.

Drink Devine by Aryn Cordner

*Copy of Drink Devine provided by Aryn Cordner in exchange for an honest review*

Rating: 3.75

Drink Divine (Drink Divine Book 1)

Fingersmith meets Twilight 

I love period novels and the whole theme of Victorian England. I can only imagine being a writer, that it is difficult to compose of a story within an era of such significance, abberration and singularity. Victorian England was a time of gothic heterogeneity, and I believe that Aryn succeeded in capturing Victorian idiosyncrasies through the written aesthetics and ideas prevalent throughout. 

The concept of vampirism additionally seemed more authentic in such a setting, and though some of the ideas were wholly unoriginal and have previously been explored (i.e- Half vampire, Half human with such characteristic/living traits;*cough* Twilight *cough, cough*), it was still a brave area to explore.

It would, however, be a harsh statement to say that this is a near carbon copy of Twilight; which I see a lot of vampire books post the Twilight saga be perceived; because it is not. 

I read a few comments by readers who complained that the protagonist, Selena, was not likable. To that, I have to say that when reading from Selena's POV, you have to remember the time period and culture that this is set in and how it effected the way women were and thought of themselves in Victorian England. If you have read the likes of Jane Austen, despite it being of the Regency Era, or even the Brontes, then you will know that this was the way women were taught to be. You can easily argue that Austen had a narrowness of vision regarding her characters, and that they are shallow and pompous, but this was the 18th/19th century principles. Women also were expected to market themselves through their outward personalities and appearance, to potential husbands of a noble and notable family..($Wealth$) 
This all relates to their vanity.

The plot and story was interesting, as were the characters, to read. 
Also, the cover is beautiful!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Thief (Love Me With Lies #3) by Tarryn Fisher

Thief (Love Me With Lies, #3)

Words cannot give justice to how I feel. I don't even know how I feel.

I won't go on about how amazing of a writer Tarryn is because it's unnecessary. The whole of the plot is a total mixed collage of revelation, bombshell, shocker and non stop drama. Probably the most realistically written yet dramatic book I've ever read. Now that is saying something- that a writer can compose of a story that is both realistic, believable yet so dramatic.

I'll also not go on about the my reaction to every matter, as anyone who has read it will understand. My opinions on a lot of things; including every single present character; distorted as we are transferred from Olivia and Leah's warped minds and into Caleb's head. He of course puts everything into perspective.

[I seen a different side to Cammie- I never realized she was so manipulative. She has a lot to answer for. Noah, who I once thought was a righteous and respectable guy turned out to be a seflish, cold and distant character undeserving of Olivia, and definitely the real Thief/Opportunist. Caleb was an even better person than I once thought- I did not think I could love him anymore than I did until I got inside his head. Olivia is changed to say the least.

Every single loose end was tied up in a nice little bow. I did however wonder what ever happened to Pickles. Trivial but it was pondered non the less. Perhaps our friend Dobbie decided to take him for company in substitute for his abductions of college girls? 

The ending was perfect with a bittersweet after taste, and definitely gave us readers the closure we so much asked for and needed. I think all of the books gather such an emotional response because they are written so realistically to the point where we forget it's fiction. TF got the balance right, between a HEA and an emotion-packed, non-cliche conclusion to the Love Me With Lies series.

Click Here: The Opportunist (Love Me With Lies #1) Review

Click Here: Dirty Red (Love Me With Lies #2) Review

Saturday, 20 July 2013

More Than This by Jay McLean

*Copy of book provided by Jay McLean in return for an honest review*

More Than This (More Than This, #1)

One simply cannot sleep through such restless leg syndrome inducing levels of humidity so instead I shall type up on my shitty auto correct phone the best review I can conjure up at sweaty 3 o clock in the morning in NorthEast England. 

So they say that reading before bed always helps you to fall asleep. 
Pffft. Not when you're a bookworm and stuck in a tiny dark bedroom, incredibly sleep depraved and inhaling vapours because its so Dogdamn clammy! You can tell I'm English but being half Arab, and having lived in the Middle East for a few months in the peak summer, I should accustomed to it. I'm calling BS.

How did I even get here? Time to back pedal prior digression.

I just finished reading the heartbreaking More Than This in a bubbling fit of tears. It was so emotional and devastating, especially regarding the massive misfortune that was fated upon Mikayla on that dreadful day. The nature of the characters and the ways in which they reacted to the unfortunate events was heart warming which made them have a lot likable qualities.

There are a lot of angsty moments, and I can definitely see myself re-reading this story again if I'm craving something moody. Thank you Jay Mclean for providing me with your beautiful story.

A Beautiful Lie (Playing With Fire #1) by T.E. Sivec

Rating: 3.5 Stars

The content of the plot was amazing, as was the character development. I did go in thinking this would be a four star read like the last book of Tara S's that I've read, but there were aspects in the book that stood in the way, concluding to a low rating.

A Beautiful Lie (Playing With Fire, #1)

Firstly, I normally give 4 stars to a book that I think is at least all round generally good and that I without a doubt enjoyed reading and additionally, that I know I would have no problem re-reading if I was ever trapped in a room for a day or locked out of my own house or on an 8 hour bus journey to London (All of which have happened to me this year BTW). I didn't get that feeling of possibly wanting to re-read this book in the future if I was ever again under those circumstances. I think this was mostly due to the book being too long. A lot of the parts dragged on and on and on. Especially the last 25%, albeit me being intrigued and shocked by some of the story's revelations, I was wanting it to finally end.

I have to admit, I completely skimmed through the last 15% because I predicted that after having read it all, I would be none the wiser and could tell that the context was all about how certain characters are heartbroken and how their world is drained of colour without each other etc. I just feel like large chunks of the story lacked in dialogue where it was needed to break up the slower parts, and to make it more structured. 

The structure was unusual, particularly in the first half of the book. The characters would be in the middle of a conversation and then there would be a flashback where the narrative would jump back to a time of certain significance in a period of the character's life. I'm not sure I liked this because while it was a good technique to drop in information about a characters background, it also took me out of the present moment in the plot and got a little confusing at times when I was brought back because I'd have forgotten the previous sentence of speech prior the flashback. Despite this, as far as third person narratives go, it was definitely written effectively allowing me as the reader to conceive of each of the characters interior thoughts and feelings. 

I have to mention another thing that lowered my rating, which was the bad editing. There were missing quotation marks, full-stops, script errors and typos littered everywhere, and as much as I tried to ignore them, the more times I noticed them, the more they irritated me. The last T.E. Sivec book I read was edited impeccably so I'm not sure what happened with this one. 

The villains were sickening and really well written. I've read so many stories this year where the villains have been ridiculously written like comic book caricatures or where they have just been pathetic. I'm glad this author didn't feel the need to redeem her villains like most authors do these days. 

I am impressed by Sivic's ability to write stories within mixed genres, all completely differently. If I read the Chocolate Lovers and the A Beautiful Lie without knowing better, nothing would have lead me under the impression that they were written by the same author. While Choc/Lovers are comedic and light, A Beautiful Lie was enthralling and dark. It is by means, an angsty suspenseful and sexy thriller. My mind was constantly trying to fill in the puzzles and tie up loose ends, which is always a good thing to have your reader do, so that they don't loose interest. Everything was definitely well thought out and cleverly planned to fall into place.

Conclusively, I did enjoy this riveting thriller, but because of the said points, it is a 3.5*

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Troubles and Treats (Chocolate Lovers, #3) by Tara Sivec

Troubles and Treats (Chocolate Lovers, #3)

Rating: 4.5*

I don't think I've ever read anything like this before. Everyone who has read Tara Sivec's Chocolate Lovers books will agree that she is an absolute comedy genius!

I braced myself. I have a weird dry sense of humour and don't find things funny that most people do, so I was hoping that the humour in this book would not becheesy or not funny. 
Thank God it wasn't. I am so impressed! I was laughing my head off within the first few pages; if I remember rightly, it was at a Spongebob and Jellyfishin' reference. 

There was not moments in the story where the comedy died down either. I didn't stop laughing, even when reading it on my Kindle on the bus in the city to get to my job interview. I seriously had to reign my laughter in a notch. 

The character development was phenomenal. These characters are so fleshed out. I haven't actually read the first two books of the series yet so the characters were all new to me but every single one of them had depth and a distinct personality. I completely believe that they were inspired by real life people because they are so dimensional and I looooove realistic and believable characters.

Being in Drew's head was hilarious. Usually I find crude humour to be distasteful but this was just brilliant. Jenny's dizziness but also bossiness was also a great blend. I could read quotes from the story every day, just to get a kick out of them. The whole group of characters and relationships between them reminded me ofFriends but somewhat funnier.

My only main criticism was that the epilogue was unexpectedly throw-up-in-your-mouth cheesy and a tad cliche, but I suppose it's purpose was to conclude the trilogy.

This story was a really nice change to other's that I've read. I have never laughed so much at words on paper! I didn't even think it was possible for me.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Unteachable by Leah Raeder

*Copy of book provided by Leah Raeder in return for an honest review*

Rating: 5*

First of all, Leah should have titled this book the following:

"Alisha! This is the book you've been looking for!"

It truly was. For months now, I've been looking up new Indie authors, complaining about the masses of weakly written books that have so much potential etc. Finally, I've found an author who has a heck of a talent for writing. I admit, I was curious about what Leah's writing would be like. Then, I read the first page with a shit eating grin. The last time I read writing that was this well structured, poetic and lyrical was when I read April and Oliver by Tess Callahan. I can only ever wish to be such a good writer. Not only did I highlight inspirational quotes; a lot of the things I highlighted were some of the beautiful descriptions and depictions such as:

'Sodium light slanted through the windshield, painting the side of his face with warm lemon.'


'"I can't hold on to you. You're like that shooting star. Just a trail of fire in my hands." And the Oscar goes to Evan Wilke, for putting the first fine, hairline crack in the ruby of my heart.' 

Honestly, the writing can not be faulted in the slightest, clearly worth 5 stars.

As for the characters, I completely felt like I could identify with the main protagonist, Maise. This is a rare thing for me as I usually disagree and loath female protags for their annoying/cliche/ self pitying ways. Maise is a character who lives in the moment, does what she wants, and doesn't piss about by constantly considering the consequences of her actions. She is strong willed and straight to the point, which was so refreshing. 

I liked the Lolita references as well. For some reason, in my head I cast Max Irons as Evan, which is a bit of a coincidence since Max's father, Jeremy Irons actually played Humbert Humbert in the film adaptation of Lolita. Basically, what I'm saying is that if this ever gets made into a movie, you HAVE to cast Max Irons. It is fate. 

The relationship dynamics between Maise and Evan were interesting because they were sans the typical relationship statuses that you read about. They weren't that type of couple who constantly get jealous, possessive or who argue 24/7. They had passion without all of this. The age gap put a twist on things and questioned the sphere of their relationship. To intensify things, there was also the controversial issue of their [Spoiler Alert!] Student-Teacher relationship.

Some point in the middle, I found the plot to be a little too paced where nothing much was happening and things were just going back and fourth a lot, but then when the status of the relationship began to encounter problems, things got more interesting. Especially when Wesley admitted to have been stalking Evan. I was seriously freaked out when he said [Spoiler] about Evan having no online history dated before 2011, that he was talking to himself in the car, and that he was a ghost! I seriously questioned his legitimacy and even palpability :')

The story was put to conclusion perfectly, no over the top drama, just what would have been. I hope more people get to read this author's work, and that we'll be hearing of a lot more stories from Leah and her amazing writing

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Crash (Crash #1) by Nicole Williams

Rating: 2*
Lets start with what I liked: The Cover.

Crash (Crash, #1)

Now for the criticism.

Quality of the writing is standard, though I do feel that the main protagonist, Lucy was a little under-developed and two dimensional at times. I feel like her mother and father, two secondary characters, actually had more personality than the main protagonist! Not a good start. Accompanying this, there was one or two typos. The characters and story's concept is nothing if not typical of YA reads. Some aspects within the story line were not thought out by the author, and made little sense. When she makes a fresh start at a new school but somehow everyone in school; none of whom know her; some how know of the details of her personal life. How? This is unexplained and had me confused. Ooh, and then look who pops up again. Jude of course. T-Y-P-I-C-A-L.

Straight away within the first 15% of the story, I knew what I was going to rate it. What really aggravated me was the sheer amount of cliches and what I like to call 'happy coincidences' which made some of the plot a little too obvious and predictable, and also took away the realism from the story. I did take into consideration that coincidences are an important element commonly required to form the basis of the plot and draw the character together, and that they do happen often in our every day lives, but these were ridiculous.

The worst one was when it reads that Jude and Lucy were both named by songs by The Beatles, and that both of their parents were huge Beatles fans. Gahhh. I sat up on my bed and screamed "Really????".

Do you want another example? Well, when they were at a club...A CLUB, for COLLEGE TEENS! The music playing was 'HEY JUDE' by the goddamn BEATLES!!! What the f***? What sort of nightclub plays the Beatles for Bejus' sake?

Sawyer was a character written very unrealistically. No one is like that! Oh god. So were those guys that randomly decided to set her on fire in the middle of the night. That scene had absolutely no relevance. Come on now Williams. As for the "priends" and rest of the student body, I really hope that all American teenagers and students aren't as superficial and shallow as the ones in this story. God help them if they are. 

What made me change my mind from rating this with 1*, despite all of the cringe worthy cliches, was the emotional effect that some of the scenes had on me. Particularly within the second last revelation which had a major twist on the story.  The one where they discover each other's pasts and how they interlock with each other, complicating things further more. That additionally was a bit too far fetched but was also shocking and impacting. My automatic emotional response was to cry for the misfortunes bestowed on Lucy's family with the tragic death of her brother.

I did enjoy reading a little bit of this story, I'll admit, but this combined with the things I heavily disliked, has concluded to my rating being 2*. I'm not actually sure why I bought it after reading the sample on my Kindle. I think it was because of the high ratings given by my goodreads friends. And I like the cover.