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Review: Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Ugly Love
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: 5 Aug 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

An unforgettable love story that breaks all the rules.

When Tate Collins finds airline pilot Miles Archer passed out in front of her apartment door, it is definitely not love at first sight. In fact, they wouldn’t even consider themselves friends. But what they do have is an undeniable mutual attraction.

He doesn’t want love and she doesn’t have time for a relationship, but their chemistry cannot be ignored. Once their desires are out in the open, they realise they have the perfect set-up, as long as Tate can stick to two rules – never ask about the past and don’t expect a future.

Tate convinces herself she’s ok with it, but soon realises that it’s harder than she thought. Will she be able to say no to her sexy pilot when he lives just next door?

REVIEW 

OK OK – takes deep breath.
Sooo I kinda stayed up all night Saturday reading this book and I have to pronounce Colleen Hoover the Queen of words that bring on all the feels. I mean ALL the feels.

I was instantly apprehensive remembering just how ugly the sobbing got when I read Maybe, Someday. With the buzz about Ugly Love being even more emotional I prepared myself in advance anxiously awaiting that point where my heart gets ripped out of my chest. I gotta tell you – I didn’t cry. You’re probably screaming WHAT? at the screen right now but it’s true – I didn’t cry. You want to know why? It’s because I would still be crying, the type of crying you never recover from. The type of devastation that there is no way back from. As the plot unfolded I had an inkling of where we were going to end up. Believe me I prayed to the god of words and plot lines that it wasn’t what I thought but just in case the niggles at the back of my mind was confirmed I couldn’t allow myself to feel that kind of pain. So I detached myself, I kept that barrier firmly in place. Don’t get me wrong I still felt the pain but I just COULDN’T do it on a personal level – I know it makes no sense but it would have just been too personal. The type of personal where you get up in the morning and kiss and hug the people you love just for being there. That totally happened by the way. Just not the personal I could take too personally – if you get what I mean. Yeah you probably don’t unless you’ve read it – which you totally should because its beautiful.

Told in dual narrative from Tate and Miles’s point of view. Whereas Tate’s perspective is the present action and interaction, Miles takes us back to events that have shaped his present situation. OH MY GOD MILES. From their very first encounter you can feel the bond between them while equally experiencing Miles’s reluctance to give/accept anything other than a physical relationship. My heart literally ached for both of them. While you question Tate’s continued acceptance of the situation, you can also understand that the bond between them defies logic and therefore, Tate can’t be judged for enduring emotional situations that would have destroyed a lesser woman.

Miles is completely broken, the reason unfolding seamlessly alongside the growth of his ‘relationship’ with Tate. As an outside observer it’s obvious just how much being with Tate alters Miles for the better. Yet his reticence causes them both more pain. There were moments of excruciating heartbreak where Miles words were like daggers through the heart, not only to Tate but through mine alongside hers. YET, yet, you know deep down that it’s so much more. The worse thing being that there was no solution nothing to get around those broken pieces until they ripped both of them to shreds.

Although Miles is broken he is also kinda freaking PERFECT. Yeah, I know I’m twisted. BUT when this guy loves, he loves with everything he’s got, EVERYTHING *swoon* It made me completely envious, what would it be like to have someone love me like that – to feel utterly adored and cherished – like the only woman in the entire world. PERFECT RIGHT?

I’m not giving more of the plot away because YOU HAVE TO READ IT. What I will say is that Colleen Hoover’s writing style is utterly, utterly beautiful – her mastery with words shines through this book. Miles’s point of view reads like a verse novel with the stunning use of word placement and creative use of white space. It is simply sensational.

Review: Swim the Fly by Don Calame

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Swim the Fly
Series: Swim the Fly #2
Author: Don Calame
Publisher: Templar
Publication Date: 9 May 2011
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Fifteen-year-old Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Coop and Sean, always set themselves a summertime goal. This year? To see a real-live naked girl for the first time. But this impossible mission starts to look easy in comparison to Matt’s other challenge: to swim the 100 yard butterfly (the hardest stroke known to man) and impress the gorgeous Kelly West.

REVIEW BY ALEX – YEAR 9

I really enjoyed this book. I felt like it perfectly fitted the teenage genre and not a single supernatural being in sight! It had an interesting plot, that had me guessing time and time again what funny incident was going to happen next. I was beaten every time. Something would happen, and I could never, not a single time, predict what it was. Quite, simply; no crudity, just nudity instead. :)

Matthew Gratton, approaching his sweet sixteenth, narrates the story in the first person. His two best buddies from the swim team, Sean and Coop(er) accompany him on their one summertime goal: To see a real-live naked girl. Their summertime goal is their tradition, it’s their bread and butter of enjoying the summer. They’ve been doing it since forever and haven’t failed yet, and don’t intend to start. So be prepared for cross-dresses and big messes. But Matt has another goal in mind as well, to win over “smokin’ hot” Kelly Brookes by swimming the 100-yard Butterfly, the hardest stroke ever. Ever. As Matt strives to go from zero to hero on the swim team, his efforts are torn as he must also manage to see a girl fully naked, when he hasn’t even had a girlfriend. Too much work for Matt? Not when Kelly’s the top prize.

As stated above, this book made me laugh a lot. Any scene that doesn’t have comedy in it is merely building up to one. Each funny scene only urged me to see to turn the next page again and again. The characters, I thought, were well developed throughout the story. Each one felt like I knew someone like them. My favourite character in this book had to be Coop. His daring plans kept the plot interesting; often not going as intended. The witty comments kept the humour new and varied. There must be one comedian in these types of books, and Coop fitted that description perfectly; He completed the gang of teenage boys topped up on testosterone. For me, I think a lot of the “disaster” scenes were well written, with each calamity flowing into the next.

Personally, I found it quite difficult to care about Kelly, despite her importance to the main character, Matt. I just didn’t find her character that interesting and I didn’t feel like she had enough to do with the main plot; most of the plot is dominated by achieving the summertime goal. All in all though, this is my only complaint.

In summary, I would definitely recommend this book to any teenage boy, unless you’re particularly faint of heart or would prefer to avoid some “vulgar” scenes. as Publisher’s Weekly said; “…will spread like Athlete’s foot in a locker room” And I couldn’t agree more. 4/5 for me and this boisterously-good book is a great read for any teenage boy. It’s just completely set apart from the rest.

Tantalising Trailers: Hostage by Chris Bradford

Trailers

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Hostage
Series: Bodyguard #1
Author: Chris Bradford
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date:  2 May 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads

ASSESS THE THREAT.
COUNTER THE DANGER.
ESCAPE THE KILLZONE.

In a dangerous world, everyone needs protection. 

No one suspects that a teenager could protect someone – but Connor Reeves is no ordinary 14 year old. He’s a professional bodyguard trained in surveillance, anti-ambush techniques, hostage survival and unarmed combat. When he’s summoned to protect the President’s daughter, his protection skills face the ultimate test.

Alicia doesn’t want to be guarded. She just wants to have fun. With no clue that Connor is her bodyguard, she tries to escape the Secret Service and lead him astray. But unknown to her and Connor, a terrorist sleeper cell has been activated. 

Its mission: to take the President’s daughter HOSTAGE

This is high on my library wish-list. Perfect for fans of Alex Ryder, Cris Ryan and Robert Muchamore :)

Review: Suzy P and the Trouble with Three by Karen Saunders

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Suzy P and the Trouble with Three
Series: Suzy P #2
Author: Karen Saunders
Publisher: Templar
Publication Date: 1 Jan 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Suzy’s off camping with her family and best mate Millie – yes, you heard right – camping! As if being stuck in a caravan in rainy Wales for two whole weeks weren’t bad enough, to make matters worse, Mum’s best friend’s daughter, super-glam (and super-snooty) Isabella is coming too. When Millie starts spending all her time with Isabella, Suzy is devastated. Can her friendship with Millie survive when three is most definitely a crowd?

REVIEW BY ALICE – YEAR 7

Suzy P. and Trouble with Three is about a girl called Suzy with a completely crazy family. Her parents are always entering prize draws because they are not vey well off. Her sister Amber is pregnant with twins and is coming up with all sorts of ridiculous names for them. Her tomboy sister Harry loves Harry Potter and tries to become a wizard with her pet rat, Hagrid. Also Suzy is in a ‘foursome’ with her best friend Millie, her boyfriend Danny and Millie’s boyfriend Jamie. To add to all of this Suzy’s mum, Jen has invited her Italian friend, Caro’s daughter, Isabella to stay.

Suzy’s parents win a caravan in one of the prize draws they entered. Because of their financial difficulties they cannot afford a holiday abroad so they decide to go to Wales in their new caravan. They also invite Millie’s mum, Clare, and Mille to come. Also Isabella is forced to come. There are many difficulties along the way. Talent shows, visits to hospital, and secrets all come together and form a wonderful story. Once you start reading you can’t put it down.

The main character, Suzy encounters many dilemmas. For a start there is a bit of tension between her and the Italian visitor. Her best friend, Millie seems to be hiding something and so does her boyfriend, Danny. Suzy’s life is full of secrets and not knowing who people really are. For me, this book seems realistic as I can empathise with Suzy as some of the events in this book have happened to me.

Personally, my favourite character is Suzy because I can empathise with her (as already mentioned in the paragraph above). She is a very down to earth character yet she sometimes feels envious of others. I imagine her to have wild, frizzy brown hair, sparkling blue eyes and a curvy shape. I don’t imagine her to wear much make up or be into the latest trends. I think she will just be herself. That is why she is my favourite character.

There was nothing I disliked about the book or that I think should have been written differently. For me this book was perfect as it reflected my personality through the characters. I thought it was light-hearted and fun. You will laugh and cry with all of the characters. This book is one of the best I have read.

Also this book is a sequel to ‘Me, Suzy P.’ I would definitely read more books by this author as I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

I would highly recommend this book to others as I thought many teenagers could empathise with Suzy, Millie, Isabella and their families. This book has many twists and turns and doesn’t give anything away until the very end. You can’t put it down. I would recommend this for ages 11-15 girls as it has main characters around that age.

There are a few slightly mature themes for the younger readers than I recommended such as: kissing and boyfriends.

Overall I would give this book 5/5 because it was an extremely enjoyable read and it brings out all of your emotions.

Spotlight: Animal Book Recommendations by Simon David Eden

spotlight (2)

Book Angel Booktopia welcomes Simon David Eden today to share recommendations for books featuring animals. Terrific picks for any animal lover or fans of Michael Morpurgo.

Received from Publisher

Received from Publisher

The initial inspiration for The Savage Kingdom came from my daughter Millie, who – aged around 10 – began to ask some really smart, challenging questions about life and the universe which I wanted to try to answer as best I could.  I thought if I could weave some of those answers into a ‘story’ I could deal with some weighty issues like bullying and bereavement and destruction of the rain-forest, while also shining a light on some of the good stuff: unconditional love, respect for others, self-belief, hope. It didn’t get me off the hook however, as I took so long to start writing the book!  It didn’t really take off until our rescue cat Bagherra entered our lives. It was observing his relationship with Millie that became the glue for the whole thing and set the tone for the tale and the two central characters Drue and Will-C.  I knew right from the beginning that I wanted to open the story very small, very familiar, just a kid and a pet which everyone can relate to, before taking the reader off, on a rip-roaring, page-turning fantasy adventure.

Given I grew up with wonderful stories like Aesop’s Fables, The Jungle Book, and The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe it’s perhaps no surprise that I’d eventually turn to writing fantasy featuring animal characters. But that’s not to say they can be any less well-researched or developed than human characters. One still needs to give them layers and nuances and hidden depths. Subtext is everything. Actually, quite often you can plumb even greater depths and make very challenging subject matter more accessible through the device, as you are one step removed. Think of Art Spiegelman’s extraordinary graphic novel Maus, or George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece Animal Farm or even Kafka’s classic Metamorphosis.

And finally a ‘dad’ fact!  Did you know that scientists estimate there are 8.7 million species on the Earth, and we’ve only encountered and identified about 1.2 million of those. Amazing isn’t it! That’s an awful lot of animals we know nothing about, and yet we continue to destroy their natural habitat and drive them to extinction in the name of profit and progress. Besides being a fun and gripping read (I hope!) if The Savage Kingdom encourages even one reader to do their bit to make the world a better, more sustainable, more harmonious place for all the creatures that share it, the long hard slog to getting the tale out into the world will have been more than worth it!

And if you’ve an appetite for more novels that feature animals/animal-human relationships, these are a few all-time classics that I think are very special:

 ‘The Call of the Wild’ – Jack London (pub 1903)

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

It’s a harsh, often brutal tale of Buck, a St. Bernard-Scotch Collie who is stolen from his home and sold into a slavery of sorts as a sled dog. It’s an epic journey (they get me every time) and a story of survival against terrible odds, cruelty and hardship, but one that’s ultimately about redemption and the power of love and trust. I remember reading it by torchlight in bed under the covers, and though I’m sure the nature vs nurture allegorical theme was lost on me at the time, so potent was the tale I was completely transported to another land, and could feel the bitter cold and crunch of the snow and the hot breath of the panting dogs. Wonderful stuff.

 Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ – Richard Bach (pub 1972)

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

The acclaimed fantasy/sci-fi author Ray Bradbury once said of this book that it does 2 things: ‘It gives me Flight and makes me Young’. I couldn’t agree more, but I’d add a third: It makes me Smile. And a forth: It makes me Cry. In a good way, as it’s so simple yet so profound and beautiful. I picked it up again recently having not read it in maybe 20 years, and there’s no question that it had an influence on The Savage Kingdom. You could say it was my introduction to quantum physics before I even knew such a thing existed. There’s a passage that reads: ‘you’ve got to understand that a seagull is an unlimited idea of freedom … your whole body from wingtip to wingtip is nothing more than thought itself.’  For that last line alone, I owe Mr Bach a debt of enormous gratitude.

‘Red Ruff’ – H Mortimer Batten (pub 1937)

Another book I read and re-read when I was still in short trousers. The amazing life story of fox as told by a man who perhaps inspired an entire generation to think more deeply about Nature, so passionate and knowledgeable was he about the great outdoors. Again a massive influence on my future writing career, as it was the first novel I became totally immersed in, that seamlessly blends well-researched fact with finely crafted page-turning fiction. Though he seems to be largely forgotten today, he’s a true literary star for me, and I’d highly recommend this tale for any young reader aged 8+

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