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Classics Carnival: Review: The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

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Image from Goodreads

Title: The Last Best Kiss
Author: Claire LaZebnik
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: 22 April 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Anna Eliot is tired of worrying about what other people think. After all, that was how she lost the only guy she ever really liked, Finn Westbrook.

Now, three years after she broke his heart, the one who got away is back in her life.

All Anna wants is a chance to relive their last kiss again (and again and again). But Finn obviously hasn’t forgotten how she treated him, and he’s made it clear he has no interest in having anything to do with her.

Anna keeps trying to persuade herself that she doesn’t care about Finn either, but even though they’ve both changed since they first met, deep down she knows he’s the guy for her. Now if only she can get him to believe that, too….

With her signature wit and expertly authentic teen voice, Claire LaZebnik (the author of fan favorites Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting) once again breathes new life into a perennially popular love story. Fans of Polly Shulman, Maureen Johnson, and, of course, Jane Austen will love this irresistibly funny and romantic tale of first loves and second chances.

REVIEW 

Where to start, where to start – firstly this is a read in one sitting book so be warned you won’t want to put it down until that last page is turned. I cannot tell you how much I love this book – Claire LaZebnik manages to capture the themes from the original classic while presenting it in such a refreshing way as to make it more attainable to today’s teens.

Told in first person narrative from Anna’s point of view, her characterization is a stroke of genius on the author’s behalf. Anna provides such wonderful insight into the workings of the teenage mind capturing the need to fit in while struggling to find yourself and your individuality. The insecurity a teen feels at standing out, it takes an emotionally strong person to have the confidence required to go against the norm – even if it is just wearing your hair differently. A large part of growing up is overcoming the fear of not being accepted for who you are; reflected poignantly within the narrative.

At times I wanted to shake Anna for being so cowardly and selfish but I could also empathize with her, the rawness of being an emotional hurricane as a teen still fresh in my mind even at my age :) You can see that Anna’s actions are hurting her just as much as Finn, to use another weather simile, it was like an avalanche building momentum with each action.

Anna’s insecurities are exasperated by her family situation; constantly seeking approval from her family including a shallow, judgmental father and sister. It is the portrayal of emotions within the story that make it exceptional in a relatable/realistic and often heart wrenching manner. Regret is one of the most difficult and poignant of emotions to deal with, second chances happen so rarely they should be snatched up when the opportunity arises. Anna is a wonderful example of this, the reflection on Anna’s behalf adds depth to the plot as well as to the emotions it evokes.

The Last Best Kiss is far more than a swoon-worthy romance showing that the issues in Jane Austen’s time are still prevalent today only instead of social class being divided by just money it also encompasses the many cliques that make up high school today (jocks, geeks, populars, etc).

Classics Carnival: Review: Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Such Sweet Sorrow
Author: Jenny Trout
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: 4 Feb 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Never was there a tale of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo…But true love never dies. Though they’re parted by the veil between the world of mortals and the land of the dead, Romeo believes he can restore Juliet to life, but he’ll have to travel to the underworld with a thoroughly infuriating guide.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, may not have inherited his father’s crown, but the murdered king left his son a much more important responsibility—a portal to the Afterjord, where the souls of the dead reside. When the determined Romeo asks for help traversing the treacherous Afterjord, Hamlet sees an opportunity for adventure, and the chance to avenge his father’s death.

In an underworld filled with leviathan monsters, ghoulish shades, fire giants and fierce Valkyrie warriors, Hamlet and Romeo must battle their way through jealousy, despair, and their darkest fears to rescue the fair damsel. Yet finding Juliet is only the beginning, and the Afterjord doesn’t surrender souls without a price…

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 REVIEW 

I first saw Such Sweet Sorrow without the synopsis and was completely smitten with the cover and you know me with classic re-imaginings I am a shoe-in :) However, I was expecting a nice, romantic read developing the themes within the original. Such Sweet Sorrow isn’t that book, instead we have a continuation of Romeo and Juliet whereby Romeo survives the poison and seeks to resurrect Juliet from the dead.

The book starts with retrospective musings on Romeo’s behalf that do add clarity to the themes within the original as well as this story (I am loath to continue to call it a re-imagining as it is a completely different tale). Personally, I felt that this was the only time Such Sweet Sorrow reflected the original Romeo and Juliet in any way.

The inclusion of Hamlet was ingenious in its usage. The characterisation of both Romeo and Hamlet and their interactions added depth to the plot. Themes of mortality woven with mythology provide food for thought. Use of the Orpheus myth added to the journey Romeo and Hamlet were undertaking. Norse and Greek mythology were predominately used alongside varying religious concepts regarding the afterlife, while weaving an intriguing point of view it did prove slightly confusing. Sirens, Fates and other mythological creatures make an appearance adding to the dynamic nature of the plot.

The writing is very descriptive, a lot goryer than I normally read. I felt it should have come with a disclaimer ‘Do not read while eating’ :)

While Such Sweet Sorrow wasn’t what I expected the ideal of love surviving death shines through the narrative. Themes of friendship, loyalty and trust alongside eternal love and soul-mates create the foundation of this book. Pushing the barriers between free-will and destiny; how much do you think or lives are controlled by outside forces and are the boundaries removable?

Classics Carnival: Spotlight plus Give-Away: Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout

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Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: SUCH SWEET SORROW
Author: Jenny Trout
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 304
Pub. Date: February 4, 2014

Find it: : GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & Noble

Never was there a tale of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo…But true love never dies. Though they’re parted by the veil between the world of mortals and the land of the dead, Romeo believes he can restore Juliet to life, but he’ll have to travel to the underworld with a thoroughly infuriating guide.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, may not have inherited his father’s crown, but the murdered king left his son a much more important responsibility—a portal to the Afterjord, where the souls of the dead reside. When the determined Romeo asks for help traversing the treacherous Afterjord, Hamlet sees an opportunity for adventure, and the chance to avenge his father’s death.

In an underworld filled with leviathan monsters, ghoulish shades, fire giants and fierce Valkyrie warriors, Hamlet and Romeo must battle their way through jealousy, despair, and their darkest fears to rescue the fair damsel. Yet finding Juliet is only the beginning, and the Afterjord doesn’t surrender souls without a price…

About Jenny

Received from Rockstar Book Tours

Received from Rockstar Book Tours

Jenny Trout is an author, blogger, and funny person. Writing as Jennifer Armintrout, she made the USA Today bestseller list with Blood Ties Book One: The Turning. Her novel American Vampire was named one of the top ten horror novels of 2011 by Booklist Magazine Online. She is a proud Michigander, mother of two, and wife to the only person alive capable of spending extended periods of time with her without wanting to kill her.

 Website/Blog/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads

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Giveaway Details

1 Prize pack of the 2013 DVD of Romeo and Juliette and the 2010 DVD of Hamlet and 1 signed copy of Such Sweet Sorrow. US ONLY
3 paperbacks of Such Sweet Sorrow US Only.
3 eBooks of Such Sweet Sorrow Internatioanl.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Classics Carnival: Spotlight: Finding Mr Darcy by Erin Butler

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Image Received from YA Bound

Image Received from YA Bound

Finding Mr. Darcy: High School Edition
by Erin Butler

Release Date: 09/16/14

Cover Reveal Organized by: YA Bound Book Tours

Summary from Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Liza Johnson takes fangirl to a whole new level of crazy when she decides to take dating advice from her literary hero: Jane Austen.

With the help of her best friends, Liza sheds her ancient-speak and complete Austen wardrobe for something a bit more modern in an attempt at finding her very own Mr. Darcy.

Enter Will, the new kid and Liza’s Darcy incarnate. Add her BFF’s ex to mix and the sexy Brit who kisses with an accent, and Liza is in trouble.

So, what’s a girl to do? Without her mom to go to relationship advice, Liza turns to the only person she can truly trust with matters of the heart via her mother’s copy of COMPLETED WORKS OF JANE AUSTEN.

It’s too bad Austen’s heroines have never played Spin the Bottle or Seven Minutes in Heaven. Liza’s determined to find her true Austen-esque happy ending, but if she can’t trust herself instead of books, she just might end up in her own tragic love story.

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About the Author

Received from YA Bound

Received from YA Bound

Erin Butler is lucky enough to have two jobs she truly loves. As a librarian, she gets to work with books all day long, and as an author, Erin uses her active imagination to write the kinds of books she enjoys reading. Young Adult and New Adult books are her favorites, but she especially loves the ones with kissing scenes.

Erin lives in Central New York with her very understanding husband, a stepson, and doggie BFF, Maxie. She prefers to spend her time indoors reading and writing, but will venture out for chocolate and sunshine. She is the author of BLOOD HEX, a YA paranormal, HOW WE LIVED, a contemporary New Adult novel, and FINDING MR. DARCY: HIGH SCHOOL EDITION, a contemporary YA.

Author Links: Website/Goodreads/Twitter/Facebook

Classics Carnival: Tantalising Trailers: Dodger by Terry Prachett

TRAILERS

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Dodger
Author: Terry Prachett
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: 13 Sept 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

Dodger is a tosher – a sewer scavenger living in the squalor of Dickensian London. Everyone who is nobody knows Dodger. Anyone who is anybody doesn’t. But when he rescues a young girl from a beating, suddenly everybody wants to know him. And Dodger’s tale of skulduggery, dark plans and even darker deeds begins . . .