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Review: Rival by Penelope Douglas

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Title: Rival
Series: Fall Away #2
Author: Penelope Douglas 
Publisher: Piatkus Books
Publication Date:
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Madoc and Fallon. Two estranged teenagers playing games that push the boundaries between love and war . . . 

She’s back.

For the three years she’s been away at boarding school, there was no word from her. Back when we lived in the same house, she used to cut me down during the day and then leave her door open for me at night.

I was stupid then, but now I’m ready to beat her at her own game . . .

I’m back.

Three years and I can tell he still wants me, even if he acts like he’s better than me.

But I won’t be scared away. Or pushed down. I’ll call his bluff and fight back. That’s what he wants, right? As long as I keep my guard up, he’ll never know how much he affects me . . .

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REVIEW 

OMG! I don’t know where to start with this book. Dude, it’s seriously messed up; don’t go into it expecting a hearts and flowers romance ‘cos you aren’t going to get it. More like soul crushing, heart breaking, fall to the floor mass of emotion romance here. It’s addictive, compulsive and unbelievably twisted yet true love.

The main characters, Fallon and Madoc, are deeply flawed; they lash out with pent-up emotions fueled by deception and misunderstandings. Although, you can’t help but root for them all the way through. Their relationship tests the boundaries of all the things I’d want in a romance YET I couldn’t help but be completely invested in both them as individuals and their relationship.

Nothing is conventional about them. Fallon for all her rebellious behaviour/appearance while complementing her personality also provides a barrier to hide behind. She craves acceptance and love, something she has only been able to get fully from one person. Can you guess who that person is ;) While Madoc plays is part of rich douche to perfection, maintaining his expected role. All the while craving the same things as Fallon, knowing she was the only person to give him what he craved.

Add in the fact that they are step-siblings nothing about their story is conventional. Forced apart 2 years previously by their parents, deliberately told heart-wrenching reports from the people who were supposed to protect them, Fallon and Madoc are fuelled by tangled emotions, anger, hurt and betrayal at the forefront. Intent on revenge their actions and words cut like daggers. You can feel their pain pouring through the narrative.

I have to be honest, there were times when I literally wanted to strangle both of them OR knock their heads together. Rival certainly draws out strong emotions within the reader. It’s a credit to Penelope Douglas’s writing that she can capture the head and heart of the reader to that extent.

As the story develops, revelations fuel the tension in more ways than one ;) Their family dynamic adds fuel to the fire. The character development both as individuals and a couple is phenomenal – especially in Madoc’s case. Although the idiot took long enough about it ;) I felt that he had never really lived his life for himself and therefore, didn’t really know who he was until Fallon :)

There is some seriously f’d up crapolla going on within the plot. Honestly, I think I had to pick my jaw up off the floor on more than one occasion. I have to say I cannot wait for Jax’s story, OMG that ending – just WOW (I know I’m a tease)

Rival proves that soul mates do exist. A love of a lifetime may not be pretty, in fact it may shred you to tiny pieces along the way BUT ultimately that depth of love will shine through.

Review: Insignia by SJ Kincaid

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Title: Insignia
Series: Insignia #1
Author: SJ Kincaid
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: July 2012
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

REVIEW BY THOMAS – YEAR 8

Insignia is based on the life of a boy named Thomas Raines and the drastic turn of events that occur, these are life changing for him.

Tom is fourteen years old and like so many other teenagers struggles with his schoolwork. However, there is a big difference. World War III is raging above the planet fought by ships in space and the there are two alliances fighting over them. The Indo-Americans and the Russo-Chinese. Tom lives in America but he is constantly moving around.  He does not live with his mother, and he and his dad Neil, are always travelling to new places because Neil hasn’t got a job. Neil gambles at different places every so many weeks and Tom has to earn money to pay for hotel rooms if his dad hasn’t won any. He has a lot of responsibility for someone his age.

There is quite a slow build up to the main plot but once there the book has a lot more action and draws you in very quickly. The plot takes a look at the idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy in the way that the lifestyle that Tom leads may result in him turning to gambling as this is what he knows, weaving elements of nature versus nurture into the story.

The plot takes a dramatic turn when a very important figure arrives needing help. Tom’s expertise at virtual combat are just what they’ve been looking for. Tom has been offered the chance of a lifetime, but Neil isn’t too pleased about the idea. He believes that Tom will just get used by the military, then get kicked out when he isn’t so useful anymore, denying him of a good career. He thinks that Tom will be another piece of equipment to them and won’t be doing anything to truly help his country. Will Tom be allowed to join the military? Read Insignia to find out.

The book was an excellent read and I enjoyed the story throughout. It was interesting and kept you guessing on what would happen next, giving some clues but not so many that it would be given away. There are several twists to the plot, many of which take you by complete surprise.

This book was great and had a lot of elements that teenagers could relate to.

Spotlight plus Give-Away: Reluctantly Royal by Nichole Chase

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RELUCTANTLY ROYAL Synopsis

Maxwell Jameson Trevor, prince of Lilaria, hates his royal role. Despising the limelight, he takes solace in his art studio and steers clear of any drama. But when one of the newly discovered royals passes away, Maxwell’s brother Alex asks him to break the news to the old man’s granddaughter. Though he hates to be the bearer of doom and gloom, he doesn’t want the poor girl to find out from the tabloids. For Maxwell knows all too well how devastating that could be.

Coming from a broken home and modest background, newly ordained Lady Meredith Thysmer has seized her chance to make a better life for herself and her son. She’s not afraid to use her best assets to get what she wants. But when the unpretentious yet devastatingly handsome Max delivers his news, her plans for the future come crashing to a halt. In the challenging days ahead, Max’s compassion, humor, and steadfast loyalty to Meredith and her son win her over. She quickly finds herself doing something she swore would never happen again: falling in love. And yet Maxwell still refuses to completely drop his guard. Somehow Meredith’s got to find a way to seduce this reluctant royal.

Buy Links: Amazon/Barnes and Noble/iTunes/Indiebound/Kobo

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Nichole Chase Bio

Nichole Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Suddenly Royal, Flukes, The Dark Betrayal Trilogy, and several short stories. She is also the instructor of Say What? a dialogue class at the Romance Academy.

Nichole lives in Georgia with her husband, energetic daughter, superhero dog, Sulcata tortoise, and two cats. When not writing, you may find her reading, painting, crafting, or chasing her daughter around the house while making monster noises.

Links: Website/Twitter/Facebook/Author Goodreads 

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Review: Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell

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Title: Goodbye, Rebel Blue
Author: Shelley Coriell 
Publisher: Amulet
Publication Date: Oct 2013
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Rebecca Blue is a rebel with an attitude whose life is changed by a chance encounter with a soon-to-be dead girl. Rebel (as she’s known) decides to complete the dead girl’s bucket list to prove that choice, not chance, controls her fate. In doing so, she unexpectedly opens her mind and heart to a world she once dismissed—a world of friendships, family, and faith. With a shaken sense of self, she must reevaluate her loner philosophy—particularly when she falls for Nate, the golden boy do-gooder who never looks out for himself.

REVIEW BY MERIEL – YEAR 8

Goodbye, Rebel Blue is a contemporary realistic story about Rebecca Blue (nicknamed Rebel) a teen wallflower. She does not think much of her Aunt, Cousin Penelope, Uncle or the outside world, for that matter. She and her friend-of-sorts Macey are common detention comrades, but, one day Kennedy Green – your average know-it-all and good-doer – turns up to detention. On that day, Kennedy’s last on earth, she coincidentally writes a bucket list as a detention task, a list that later haunts Rebel. Rebel’s only way to end her torment, as she and Nate (her boyfriend) see it, is to complete Kennedy’s bucket list – every goal on which, contrasts with Rebel’s lonesome, resentful personality.

Gabby, Nate’s sister, is the character I like the most. She attempts to be mature, she is very observant with a outgoing personality. She adds a lively vibe to Rebel’s life when her and Nate’s relationships changes. Rebel, not affectionately loved by her relatives, prefers to aggravate them, shut people out, and do everything her own way. The list she inherits from Kennedy forces her to change her daily routines and anti-social character. I especially liked the way she builds relationships with Macey, Nate and his big family – particularly his sister Gabby, a grown up ten-year-old.

You find yourself constantly yearning for Rebel to put herself out there, be become more confident as the story progresses, she rebuilds her life after spending years locked up in her own mind. A defense mechanism  ever since her arty, spontaneous, travel-loving mother passed away. Coriell realistically represents the characteristics of typical teenagers; the book is relatable for many modern teens. I found the storyline in some ways inspiring – showing you can build your life up again, even if it is the last thing you want – amusing, light-hearted and relatable.

I would give it four stars out of five. For Goodbye, Rebel Blue to earn the last star, I would add some more adventurous plot-lines in the story – maybe something like completing the away-from-home bucket list points. I would definitely recommend this book to teens and pre-teens, as there is age-relatable content but no language to worry about and no particularly mature themes. If Shelly Coriell’s other books contained such invigorating story-lines, that were as addictive and page-turning as Goodbye, Rebel Blue, I would read them in an instant. I have nothing to complain about in Goodbye, Rebel Blue, apart from having a little lack of adventurousness towards the end.

Review: A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey

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Title: A Breath of Frost
Series: The Lovegrove Legacy #1
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 2 Jan 2014
Source: Reveiw Copy
Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

In 1814, three cousins—Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope—discover their family lineage of witchcraft when a binding spell is broken, allowing their individual magical powers to manifest. Now, beyond the manicured gardens and ballrooms of Regency London, an alluring underworld available only to those with power is revealed to the cousins. By claiming their power, the three cousins have accidentally opened the gates to the underworld.

Now ghouls, hellhounds—and most terrifying of all, the spirits of dark witches known as the Greymalkin Sisters—are hunting and killing young debutante witches for their powers. And, somehow, Emma is connected to the murders…because she keeps finding the bodies.

Can the cousins seal the gates before another witch is killed…or even worse, before their new gifts are stripped away?

REVIEW BY JOSEPHINE – YEAR 7

This is a hooking novel set in 1814 London. It tells the story of Emma Day, a young woman who is expected by all around her to go to balls, wear dresses and find a suitor. But her and her two cousins are different; they never did fit in. Gretchen, Penelope and Emma don’t want to get married. Then one day everything is turned upside down when Emma finds a dead girl covered in frost and breaks the only thing she had of her mother’s, a perfume bottle.

I loved reading this book and I would definitely recommend it to others (older readers would be best suited to this book, 12 year olds at the youngest). I am currently waiting for the next two books in the trilogy and cannot wait to get reading them.

My favourite character would probably be Gretchen, Emma’s cousin, because she is totally different to everyone else and determined not to be a perfect example of a lady. In fact she wants to dress up as a boy and fight in the army against Napoleon rather than be a wife. Even though Gretchen is my favourite I think the other characters are imaginatively created and that Alyxandra is a very skilled author.

One thing that wasn’t so good about the book was the start. It plunged straight into action and didn’t tell me any background information but in the end I managed to piece everything together. One thing’s for sure, this book can’t just be read to pass the time while your mind is on other things, it needs your full concentration and attention.

Out of five I think this book deserves four and a half stars but I would definitely read this for yourselves and see what you think about it.

This is an exciting romance story that will leave you hungry for more. The next book Whisper the Dead carries on with the Lovegrove girls’ life with more danger, magic and romance than before as the Order stays in the shadows watching their every move and strange magical occurrences are happening all around them.