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Review: Burn by Monica Hesse

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Burn
Series: Stray #2
Author: Monica Hesse
Publisher: Hot Key books
Publication Date: Feb 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating:

Synopsis from Goodreads

Lona Sixteen Always is about to become Lona Seventeen Always, but she isn’t feeling much older or wiser. Unlike Fenn and the rest of the Path strays, she is struggling to move on with her life. How can she look to the future when she knows almost nothing about her past? Lona feels like everyone’s pressuring her to become ‘normal’ – even her beloved Fenn – and on top of this, she’s been having strange, violent dreams. It almost feels like someone’s trying to send her a message…

Lona’s dreams turn out to be memories – clues hidden inside Lona by her mother, who Lona always assumed was lost to her forever. But she isn’t lost at all: she’s being held captive by Harm – emotionless, psychotic, murderous Harm – and she’s desperate for Lona to find her. But can Lona work it all out in time? And why does Harm need Lona’s mother? In the bid to find out who she really is, Lona will fall headlong into a trap far more dangerous and cunning than she could ever have imagined. The Path was just the beginning.

REVIEW BY LAYLA – YEAR 8

Burn is about a sixteen year old girl called Lona who has been part of a science project all her life.  The science project was called ‘Julian Path’ because the children who are part of it live in pods and watch the life of a man called Julian.  As all of the children there are abandoned, when Lona leaves, she goes searching for her real parents.

Although the story is written in 3rd person, Monica Hesse manages to portray Lona’s feelings very well.  Monica steps into Lona’s shoes and talks about her thoughts and feelings about the whole situation.  As Lona’s thoughts and feelings were always so clear, it made it easier to understand what she was experiencing.

The plot was always moving- there was always something happening, so I was easily absorbed by the story. This made it very interesting and enjoyable to read.  I read the book quickly because I always wanted to find out what would happen next.  The plot is very good because it’s as if it’s slowly building up a puzzle as Lona finds out information about who her parents are.

Another thing that I liked about the book was that Monica Hesse thought about how Lona’s search for her parents affected her friends.  Part of the story is also about what her friends think about her looking for her parents and how they react to some of the problems they face.

Something which made the story more interesting was that Monica Hesse told most of the story from Lona’s point of view, but some of it was from Lona’s mum’s point of view. Seeing where Lona’s mother was and what was happening to her deepend the mystery still.  The fact that the plot got more interesting as I went through the book made it very hard to stop reading because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next.

I found that towards the end of the book that there was an interesting twist as to what I thought was going to happen, which made the ending more interesting.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading Burn.

Books I’ve Read: Unrequited by Melody Grace

Books

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Unrequited
Series: Beachwood Bay #3.5 The Callahans #1
Author: Melody Grace
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: May 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

You can be anyone for a night…

Alicia isn’t the kind of girl to kiss a total stranger up against the wall — no matter how devastatingly sexy he is. But reeling from a broken heart, she runs straight into the arms of Dex Callahan: rock star, bad boy, and the most seductive man she’s ever known.

Dex is looking for distraction, at any price. The innocent redhead is just what he needs to keep his demons at bay — but one taste of her sweetness isn’t enough. He needs to possess her, body and soul.

Two searching hearts. One night to discover the passion of a lifetime. Dex is determined to show Alicia the pleasure she’s been denied, but can she let go of her heartache and take a risk on the unknown?

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At first I was just really, really annoyed with Alicia. I felt as if she begrudged Hunter and Brit their happiness and was an evil false friend. I just couldn’t understand why she had (or thought she had) such deep feelings for Hunter when he hadn’t encouraged her in the slightest. the way Alicia was made me feel as if it undermined Brit in a way. After following Brit’s struggle in Unafraid I felt very protective of her and immediately disliked Alicia for wanting to take Hunter away from Brit.

However, as we were able to gain insight into Alicia’s thoughts it did provide a level of understanding. She is very naive and mostly extremely innocent, shy and vulnerable come to mind with Alicia on a personal level. Her professional demeanor is a complete contrast to that, cool, calm and collected. If felt as if Alicia lacked confidence especially when viewing herself as desirable. therefore, having un-returned feelings for Hunter was essentially ‘safe’ for her.

Dex is a whole other kettle of fish, totally confident in his sexuality he is drawn to Alicia’s naivety. Jaded from his rock star lifestyle and with deep haunting secrets that are only hinted at, Dex appears drawn to Alicia’s sweetness and innocence. For him, it looks as if he is seeking some sort of redemption by helping Alicia recover from her unrequited love of Hunter.

Unrequited lays the foundation for what looks like a sizzling spin-off to the main Beachwood Bay series.

Books I’ve Read: The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle

Books

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: The Edge of Falling
Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: March 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Growing up in privileged, Manhattan social circles, Caggie’s life should be perfect, and it almost was until the day that her younger sister drowned when Caggie was supposed to be watching her. Stricken by grief, Caggie pulls away from her friends and family, only to have everyone misinterpret a crucial moment when she supposedly saves a fellow classmate from suicide. Now she’s famous for something she didn’t do and everyone lauds her as a hero. But inside she still blames herself for the death of her sister and continues to pull away from everything in her life, best friend and perfect boyfriend included.
Then Caggie meets Astor, the new boy at school, about whom rumours are swirling and known facts are few. In Astor she finds someone who just might understand her pain, because he has an inner pain of his own. But the more Caggie pulls away from her former life to be with Astor, the more she realises that his pain might be darker, and deeper, than anything she’s ever felt. His pain might be enough to end his life…and Caggie’s as well.

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The Edge of Falling was nothing like I expected but nonetheless brilliant. Rebecca Serle has established herself with a beautiful, poignant writing style.

Told in first person narrative from McAlister’s perspective (I thought it was a weird name too) encompassing direct address to the reader establishing a personal connection from the beginning.

The story draws you in, past events leading to the current situation are woven seamlessly into the plot and ride a roller-coaster of emotion as details are revealed. Encompassing death and bereavement alongside differing coping mechanisms.

The Edge of Falling shows have tragedy changes you, it can completely alter your perspective. It is a stark look at the emotions that can weigh us down and drag us under without the proper support system. Tragedy makes you re-evaluate yourself, your relationships even your own place in the world and hopefully gives you a new appreciation of everything.

The Edge of Falling is a consuming read, you won’t be able to put it down until you’ve reached that last page and then you can’t help but think about it long after  you’ve closed the cover.

Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

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Image from Goodreads

Title: Afterworlds
Series: Afterworlds #1
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: Sept 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 2/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack.

But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

REVIEW BY AMY – YEAR 9

I have to start by saying that Afterworlds revolves around some mature themes, I’m not convinced it’s reaching it’s target audience due to this fact.

Afterworlds is a unique concept using a story within a story, complete with cross-over aspects and dual narration. The alternating chapters between each ‘story’ actually detract from the world building as a whole. Just as you’re starting to immerse yourself into one aspect it switches to the other ‘story’. This can be quite disorientating and I felt it slowed the pace of the narrative. I know I’m not alone when I say that one ‘story’ stood out much more than the other. At times it was an effort not to skip the one narrator and move directly onto the more compelling voice.

Eighteen year old writer, Darcy, is the actual author of Afterworlds while Lizzie is the main character in the book acting out the narrative, if you will.

Lizzie’s world is based around modern day life in America. Following a violent incident resulting in a near death experience, Lizzie discovers that she is able to “pass over” to the alternative dimension involving spirits and memories of past places and lives. In Lizzie’s side of the book she meets Yama, a spirit guide who learnt his skill at a young age. Yama helps Lizzie discover her potential as a spirit guide and helps her through all the challenges she will have to face. They progress into a relationship quiet quickly; however problems arrive along the way leaving you on edge and questioning events.

In my opinion Lizzie and Yama’s relationship occurred too quickly, it lacked build-up and therefore lacked believability and a connection to their relationship. I found Yama to be quite a bland charter he lacked personality; for me he was very much a one-dimensional, stereotypical white knight.

Lizzie’s half of the book did contain a fair amount of suspense aided by cliffhangers at the end of her chapters. Although the pacing was quite slow.

Darcy’s  story focuses on getting the book published. This includes her going to New York, getting her own apartment and introducing the reader to her girlfriend Imogen. Imogen is a mysterious character, adding additional suspense and tension to Darcy’s half of the story. Imogen also manages to provide humorous relief within the narrative.

Darcy focuses on perfecting her manuscript and creating the perfect ending. Continually questioning the ending she has devised. There are several alternative endings available to her leaving the reader curious to know which one will be chosen.

I enjoyed parts in this books. Especially the parts where Darcy’s life altered affecting aspects of Lizzie’s story. However, I did feel that Afterworlds was very slow paced overall and at times quite boring.  Although I did like the insight it provided into the life of an author. There are a lot of loose ends left at the end paving the way for the sequel.

While I enjoyed the paranormal side of the book and bits of Darcy’s life I’m not sure it’s enough to make me want to carry on with the series. Although I do think a sequel is necessary to tie all the loose ends together.

Review: Right Kind of Wrong by Chelsea Fine

Received from InkSlingerPR

Received from InkSlingerPR

Title: Right Kind of Wrong
Series: Finding Fate #3
Author: Chelsea Fine
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: 2 Sept 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Sometimes wrong can feel oh so right . . .

Jenna Lacombe needs complete control, whether it’s in the streets . . . or between the sheets. So when she sets out on a solo road trip to visit her family in New Orleans, she’s beyond annoyed that the infuriatingly sexy Jack Oliver wants to hitch a ride with her. Ever since they shared a wild night together last year, he’s been trying to strip away her defenses one by one. He claims he’s just coming along to keep her safe-but what’s not safe for her is prolonged exposure to the tattooed hottie.

Jack can’t get Jenna out from under his skin. She makes him feel alive again after his old life nearly destroyed him-and losing her is not an option. Now Jack’s troubles are catching up to him, and he’s forced to return to his hometown in Louisiana. But when his secrets put them both in harm’s way, Jenna will have to figure out how far she’s willing to let love in . . . and how much she already has.

Received from InkSlingerPR

Received from InkSlingerPR

REVIEW 

 I love this series so much however, I have to say I was really frustrated with Jenna for a lot of this book. I honestly just didn’t understand her. I literally wanted to slap her at points for being so stupid. Her reluctance to accept love was puzzling. Yes, I understood that she wasn’t from a wealthy family and that she had to go with out material things growing up. However, she does have a world of love. A warm, caring and happy home; to me that is beyond anything that money can buy. Yes, I agree that having money does make life easier but it doesn’t guarantee happiness. So while I did find myself very annoyed with Jenna on more than one occasion, overall the underlining basis of the story, being that life is nothing but an empty shell without love, more than made up for my soapbox rants at Jenna :)

Beyond happy that the story is told in dual narrative, for every annoyance with Jenna my heart warmed further to Jack. The chemistry between the two of them is undeniable and I hated to see their previous actions of provoking jealousy in the other. Especially as it only served to fuel Jenna’s reticence to start a relationship with Jack.

Both Jenna and Jack come from the same area surrounding New Orleans and have surprisingly similar backgrounds. Although Jack’s life has been harder than Jenna’s, he has taken on the role of ‘man of the house’ for many years. His is definitely a case of the son paying for the sins of the father. Yet, he always puts his family first, his intense love, loyalty and protectiveness made me fall hard for Jack. His complete acceptance of his feelings for Jenna was beautiful to witness as well as his faith that she felt the same, alongside infinite patience that he could break down her barriers. I really liked how protective Jack was of the people he loved yet he doesn’t sugarcoat things, especially with Jenna, he truly wanted a partnership *swoon*

While Right Kind of Wrong ticks all the smexy buttons is is incredibly romantic, with some truly heart-melting moments. High action is mixed with an immeasurable depth of love at all levels, family, friends and partners.

I especially adored seeing the couples from the previous books and being able to witness the progression of their relationships. Willow Inn seems to be a magical mecca for love and relationships. Someone give me the directions STAT. Chelsea also provides a surprising insight into Pixie’s Aunt, Ellen’s life. This has me desperate to hear all of her story *begs Chelsea*