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Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

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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.

Spotlight plus Give-Away: Fractured Lines by Jen McLaughlin

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BOOK SUMMARY

The lines we once crossed so easily have widened and torn us apart…

Once upon a time I thought Finn and I would live happily ever after, but real life doesn’t always have a happy ending. He’s testing my trust, and I’m losing faith in the man I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with, and there’s nothing I do can stop it. He’s the one I trusted to keep me safe, but now he’s the source of my greatest pain…

Forgiveness is fragile, and some fractures never fully heal…

One mistake—a slip in a moment of weakness—might cost me everything I’ve worked so hard for. The thing about trust is that it’s a lot easier to lose than it is to build. Just as I’m about to give up and surrender to the demons from my past, an unexpected threat reminds me what I’m best at: protecting the woman I love. Whether or not she wants me, I will fight for Carrie and our daughter, and I will keep them safe—no matter the cost.

Even if I have to put my life and my heart on the line.

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Author Information

Jen McLaughlin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy New Adult books. Under her pen name Diane Alberts, she is a multi-published, bestselling author of Contemporary Romance with Entangled Publishing. Her first release as Jen McLaughlin, Out of Line, released September 6 2013, and hit the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal lists. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. She is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal-clear water. Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal-clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and a cat. Her goal is to write so many well-crafted romance books that even a non-romance reader will know her name.

 Website/Facebook Fan Page/Twitter/Goodreads

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Review: Right Kind of Wrong by Chelsea Fine

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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.

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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*

Spotlight plus Give-Away: Right Kind of Wrong by Chelsea Fine

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RIGHT KIND OF WRONG Synopsis

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.

BUY LINKS: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo/Indiebound/BAM

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ABOUT CHELSEA FINE

Chelsea lives in Phoenix, Arizona where she spends most of her time writing stories, painting murals, and avoiding housework at all costs. She’s ridiculously bad at doing dishes and claims to be allergic to laundry. Her obsessions include: superheroes, coffee, sleeping-in, and crazy socks. She lives with her husband and two children, who graciously tolerate her inability to resist teenage drama on TV and her complete lack of skill in the kitchen.

LINKS: Website/Facebook/Twitter/YouTube/Instagram/Author Goodreads 

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Review and Trailer: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

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Image from Goodreads

Title: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Author: Leslye Walton
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: March 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

REVIEW BY BETH

Before anything else it’s important to wallow in the beauty of Walton’s cover. The cover of this novel is so delicately beautiful I’m so happy to have a copy on my shelves and it’s worth it just to look at. The novel itself went off in some directions I wasn’t quite up to speed with but this didn’t detract from overall enjoyment.

This novel is strange, the title has got that much right and plenty of it is very beautiful (cover included). The story is entirely unique and Walton’s style draws you in in a simple, subtle way with no trickery or pacy action to keep you on your toes. There is a dream-like atmosphere throughout created by Walton’s prose and her quirky characters.

There is a magical element to this novel which always makes me feel a bit uneasy as I’m not a massive fan of anything fantastical or too out there but Walton’s novel needed this element to make it as good as it was. I have read many reviews saying this book was impossible to put down and whilst I didn’t feel this, I did look forward to going back to it and getting drawn gently back into Ava’s world and the world of those around her.

The characters, as mentioned, are as quirky as they come. Walton produces a cast of perfectly characterised people who genuinely jump out of the pages and their voices are almost audible. Her bad guys are just as effective and I really enjoyed how well each and every character was crafted.

I think the magical realism in this novel worked for me because it is a completely illogical inclusion. People turn into birds, ghosts appear and despite these facts, the plot seems like something that could genuinely have happened.

Walton’s novel covers some pretty massive themes amongst its whimsical tale. The power of love seems to undercut all the other issues and there is a real moralistic sense that the strength of a person is far more powerful than that of love. It’s whimsical, it’s magical and it’s the kind of thing I shouldn’t really like, but I did. Bittersweet and extremely memorable.