Saturday, 16 May 2015

Review | The Elite by Kiera Cass

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe Elite by Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #2
Published On: April 23, 2013
Published By: Harper Teen
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 323
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift
Rating: ★★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

The Selection began with thirty-five girls. Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen? 
America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America's chance to choose is about to slip away.

The Elite, the second book in The Selection series, follows America as she continues her adventures as part of the Selected. Being the second book in a series, I can’t give much by way of a synopsis without spoiling the first book. However, I do have a full review of The Selection if you wish to know more about the series.

After reading, and loving, The Selection, I had high hopes for this book. I already knew I liked the characters and the writing style, so had no doubt I would love it. However, having heard some negative reviews, I was worried this sequel may have followed in the footsteps of many other second books in a series and I would not enjoy it as much as I had the first book.

This was not the case, however, as I loved the second book just as much as the first. Despite many of the negative reviews coming from those who loved the first book but found fault in the second, I found I had nothing to be worried about. I loved all of the characters, and enjoyed getting to read more about them, as well as the beautiful palace setting and the fun plot.

America is such a relatable character. As much as I really hate to admit being able to relate to certain aspects of her character and things that she does, I was definitely a lot like her in my teenage years. In fact, I probably still am a lot like her now. She is the kind of character you love in spite of her flaws, rather than a character whose flaws you find issue with.

While I also love both Maxon and Aspen, the love triangle was a little frustrating at times. Though I enjoyed the frustration of the love triangle, America was extremely indecisive between the two boys throughout the book. Though I say that, I understand why this was the case and it actually made America more relatable to me as that indecisiveness is something my younger self can relate to, which is one instance in which I do not like to admit the similarity. As well as making America a more realistic character, the love triangle and the frustration caused by it, I feel, added to the story. It really emphasised the pressure both America and Maxon are under in this situation.

I enjoyed getting more of an insight into the world in this book. I enjoyed finding out about the society in which they are living in the first book, however the second book gives a great deal more information. This new insight made their world seem much more interesting, and messed up, as you realise from the information given in the first book. This book is simply a great, fast-paced, exciting read. I absolutely flew through this as the story is just so exciting. It reads as though you are watching a reality TV show, which is why I managed to read it over two sitting (it would have been one if I hadn’t started it so late).

Overall, this is a great second book to the series. It continues to develop the world and the characters, while still keeping the plot exciting enough to keep the reader interested. I have fallen in love with this series and would highly recommend it. To anyone who has put off reading this series due to negative reviews, I would urge you to give it a chance. It will not be everyone’s taste but it is a lot of fun to read.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Review | Four by Veronica Roth

Image and video hosting by TinyPicFour by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #0.1-0.4
Published On: July 8, 2014
Published By: Harper Collins
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child. 
Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system. 
Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

Four is the bind up of four novellas from the point of view of Tobias/Four, which precede and accompany the first book in the Divergent series. These four novellas - The Transfer, The Initiate, The Son and The Traitor - are accompanied by three scenes from Divergent from Four’s point of view.

The Transfer 
I had previously read this novella back in 2014 after reading the first book in the series. I liked it back then, however it was much more enjoyable the second time around. Having read all three books in the series, I understood more of this novella. There were characters mentioned that had not appeared in Divergent, and upon first reading made little impact on me, but made an appearance in the later books. This meant that I took a lot more from this. This novella follows Tobias as he makes the transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless. I found the background into Tobias’ life very interesting.

The Initiate 
This novella follows Four through his Dauntless initiation. As the initiation was one of my favourite parts of Divergent, I loved reading about it again. Though Four’s experience was a little different to Tris’, it was still very interesting and enjoyable to read about. I also liked that many of the Dauntless characters from the series were featured in this story. This was a great story for giving insight into Four’s character, and why he acted in certain ways. I really enjoyed that aspect.

The Son
This was probably my least favourite of the four novellas. In fact, I barely remember what this one was about. This story is basically filling in the gap between Four’s initiation and the arrival of Tris. We get to know about Four choosing his job and why he chose what he did, and also encounter Evelyn. I found the insight gained in the novella to be interesting but I did not enjoy it as much as I did the rest.

The Traitor
The Traitor overlaps with Divergent, making this one of my favourites. I absolutely loved seeing some of the scenes I have read before from Four’s point of view. I liked getting the ability to see what was going on with him when he wasn’t around Tris, as Divergent is from her point of view. It was also very interesting to find out that Four knew more than he let on about certain things during Divergent.

The Scenes From Divergent 
There were three scenes from Divergent included in this book. The first, ‘First Jumper – Tris!’, is the scene in which Tris is the first to jump and the two first meet. The second, ‘Careful, Tris’, shows the two first eating together. The third and final, ‘You Look Good, Tris’, is the scene in which drunken Four talks to Tris. I loved these scenes as they reminded me of some of my favourite moments in Divergent. It was great to relive them from a different perspective and they made me fall in love with this series all over again.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was interesting to see the story I know so well from the other side, through Four’s eyes, as well as gaining more of an insight into the character of Tobias/Four. I would definitely urge any fan of the series to read this book as it is a great addition and will secure your love of this series.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Review | Can't Let You Go by Jenny B Jones

Image and video hosting by TinyPicCan't Let You Go by Jenny B Jones
Series: Katie Parker Production #4
Published On: September 20, 2014
Published By: Sweet Pea Productions
Genre: Contemporary/Christian Fiction
Pages: 250
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

An old love whose kisses make her weak, but whose secrets threaten to destroy all she holds dear... 
  Fresh out of college, Katie Parker had it all—a charming romance, a role in a famous stage production, and an idyllic life in London. Until she found her boyfriend cheating and got herself fired from the play. Leaving everything behind, Katie hops a plane home, only to run into her first love, Charlie Benson. As the couple returns to In Between, Katie questions everything she ever thought she wanted—including a renewed romance with her high school flame. 
  While she attempts to rebuild her life, Katie's plan to manage the family’s theater meets a devastating obstacle, dragging her into a legal battle that will rock her small town. And the boy who once broke her heart seems to have the power to do it again. As Charlie’s secrets unravel, Katie must make a choice. Can she overcome her past and trust Charlie with her heart again?

As this is the fourth book in a series, there is little I can give in way of a synopsis without spoiling the previous books. I have a mini review on the first three books in the Katie Parker Productions series, which you can check out to find out more. This series follows Katie Parker as she settles into a new town with her latest foster parents. In the fourth book in the series, we follow Katie several years after book three, The Big Picture, as a young woman in her twenties.

As far as I know, this is the last book in the Katie Parker series and as soon as I heard about it I had to read it. I developed such an attachment to this series after reading the first books that I was both excited to read more about these characters and sad to be reading the final book in the series.

I love everything about this series and that did not change in the fourth book. I absolutely love the characters. They are all very relatable in their own individual ways. Katie, our main character, is one of the most relatable characters I have read about. In many ways, I am exactly like her, which I think makes me love this series even more. The side characters are all great as well, with many of them, Maxine for one, being truly hilarious characters that I would love to have in my life. I also loved the setting. There’s something about a small town setting that I really enjoy and when a small town comes together for one purpose, I love the sense of community portrayed.

Though I loved Katie in the first three books, it was great to read about her as a young woman rather than a teenage girl. Being in my twenties myself, I could relate to her even more. It was, however, great to see that ‘grown up’ Katie was still very much like the Katie I have grown to love. Characters are forever becoming magically mature overnight, and as a twenty-year-old who still feels like a sixteen-year-old, I appreciate the fact that this did not happen to Katie, it felt much more realistic.

I would like my own Charlie Benson please. I love Charlie, both in earlier books and in this one, and think his inclusion in this book made it even better for me. If someone could find me one, that would be great.

Besides the great characters, setting and plot, Jenny B Jones’ writing style really makes this book, and series as a whole. It takes someone very special and extremely talented to make you laugh that much, yet still have the ability to make you cry. Her writing is so witty and laugh-out-loud funny but the emotional, touching moments are also done so well.

I really did not want this book to end. I love this series and these characters as if they are old friends, which made it very hard to accept that this series, as far as I know anyway, is over, at least for now. However, as difficult as it was to see this book end, the ending was great and, I think, the perfect conclusion.

Overall, I loved this book just as I did the rest of the series. Not only is this just a great series, but also it is a very good introduction into the Christian Fiction genre. This is the kind of series I would happily have in my life forever and has introduced me to an author whose books I would pick up without question. Katie, and the side characters in the book, has become like a friend to me and that itself is evidence of just how well written these books are. I would recommend the Katie Parker series to anyone, and this fourth book simply added to the greatness.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Review | Ignite by Lily Paradis

Image and video hosting by TinyPicIgnite by Lily Paradis
Series: Ignite #1
Published On: August 26, 2014
Published By: Empire Books
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 328
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

After her father’s untimely demise in a mining accident and her mother’s abandonment, Lauren Lindsay is no stranger to loss. She’s used to living life for one person: herself. That is, until another family tragedy thrusts three children into her care and uproots her life in ways she could never imagine. 
  Lauren's first instinct is to run, until she meets their striking, mysterious neighbor Dean Powell. Their immediate chemistry and his connection with her late father just might be enough to keep her in town long enough to uncover pieces of her past that she never had answers to. Dean’s shady past and her reluctance to trust him could cost her the life she's always been searching for, but will she run back to her old life? 
  Or will she choose to stay and live the life her father always imagined for her?

When her late father’s wife is killed in an accident, a brand new kind of responsibility is thrust upon Lauren in the form of three newly orphaned children. Though her initial instinct is to run back to her old life, the mysterious Dean Powell may just keep her there long enough to discover the truth.

I was desperate to read this book from the moment I heard about it. The premise completely drew me in, as I was very interested in the idea of our main character being suddenly responsible for three children. I love books with a focus on family so I had high hopes for this one, and it didn’t disappoint.

The highlight of this book for me was the great characters. I loved every one of them. I found Lauren, our main characters, to be very relatable and the type of character I can easily form a connection to. Of course, I adored Dean. I spent the whole book wondering where I can get myself a Dean Powell. However, my favourite character had to be Emma. I always love great child characters in books and she was no exception. As an only child who spent a lot of time wishing I had a younger sister, I felt like Emma was the little sister I always wanted.

While I have seen some complaints regarding the romance element, I loved the balance between the romance and the family element. Though it was the family aspect that initially drew me in, I really enjoyed the introduction of Dean and the progression of their relationship throughout the book. I think the balance between the two was managed very well and made for a more enjoyable read. 

Though I enjoyed the book, I did find some aspects to be a little predictable. This did not affect my enjoyment of the book too much, but I did see things coming. For example, the mystery of Dean did not seem like much of a mystery to me as I had worked out a lot of his ‘mystery’ before it was revealed.

I found this to be satisfying as a standalone but there were some unanswered questions. Obviously, as is revealed at the end of the book, there is a second book. This will no doubt answer those questions and fill in the gaps, but not knowing that initially made things slightly confusing for me.

I enjoyed reading about characters my own age. This is one of my first forays into the world of New Adult so this was a little different for me. As I am used to reading about either character still in high school or those who are married, so reading about main characters in their 20s and at university/college made the story much more relatable for me.

Overall, I highly enjoyed this book. It was a great introduction into the New Adult genre and just a fast-paced (I read it in one sitting), enjoyable contemporary read. These characters and the story have stuck with me and I cannot wait for the second book.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Review | That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThat Summer by Sarah Dessen
Published On: March 25, 2003 (originally published 1996)
Published By: Speak/Listening Library
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 198
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

For fifteen-year-old Haven this is the summer where everything changes. 

Dad is remarrying. Her sister Ashley is planning a wedding of her own. They're both moving on, but Haven is lost in memories of a time when life was happy and her family was whole. 

And then Ashley's ex, the charming and funny Sumner Lee, arrives in town. He reminds Haven of carefree days gone by, and she can't help but wonder - has fate brought this person from her past back to change her future?

At 15, Haven feels as though her life is completely changing and it’s all happening too fast. Not only has her father left them, but now he is getting remarried, and so too is her older sister Ashley. With all of this change, all Haven wants is for things to go back to the way they were. Then, out of the blue, Ashley’s ex-boyfriend Sumner appears to give Haven a new outlook on bot the future, and the past.

To be completely honest, I was expecting so much more from a Sarah Dessen book. With this being the first of her books I have read, and having heard so many great things about her, I was quite disappointed with this book. Now knowing that this was the first book of Dessen’s to be published, I can understand why it may not be as good as those commonly raved about, but I still excepted more.

I found the plot to be rather boring. I kept waiting for something big to happen, for something to jump out as the ‘this is what this book is about’ point, but it fell flat for me. I was constantly thinking that a new character or event would be something important to the plot, but there just didn’t seem to be any big or important moments, everything just happened. I felt as though there was a lack of an overall plot.

While I enjoyed the characters, they just weren’t enough. Often when there is very little happening in the plot, some great characters can really carry the story. However, as much as I liked these characters, some more than others, they were not enough to make the book interesting or exciting enough for me.

Despite being quite negative about this book, it was not a terrible read. This was an average, ‘meh’ contemporary read for me. Though I didn’t have any story positive feelings about it, I did enjoy it somewhat.

The most exciting part about this for me was the fact that this was my first audiobook experience. Even though I didn’t love this book, I did really love the whole audiobook part of it. In all honesty, I may not have persevered with this book had I not been listening to it.

Overall, I did not love this book, but it was enjoyable enough. It is not one I would rush to recommend to someone, despite the hype surrounding Sarah Dessen’s books. However, this did not put me off her books and I will be giving one of her later books a go to see what all the fuss is about.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

TBR | May 2015

As April was such a failure of a reading month for me, the majority of my TBR for May looks a little similar to last month. However, my exams will be finished by the middle of the month so I am hoping to have plenty time towards the end of the month to make up for April.

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This is the 8th book in the Confessions Of Georgia Nicholson series, which I have been working my way through recently. I had planned to read this in April and while I started it, I never managed to finish it so have carried it over to May. 

I bought this book back in March after trying to listen to it on audiobook but giving up. I really want to read Morgan Matson's works in publication order and as this was her first novel published, I will be starting with this one. There is nothing better than a road trip story to start off the summer so I am really excited to get to this one. 

This is another book that was on my TBR for April that I never managed to read. Having watched the movie adaptation of Love, Rose, one of my favourite books of all time, and absolutely loving it, I am desperate to read more Cecelia Ahern books. This is the only other one I own and when I picked it out of my TBR jar for last month I was so excited. This is about a woman who talks a man out of committing suicide by making a deal with him that she can prove life is worth living before her 35th birthday, giving her just two weeks. I will definitely get to this one in May.

I am so excited for this book, I can't even explain it! This is the fourth book in The Selection series by Kiera Cass, therefore I can't give away anything to do with the synopsis of the book, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. This is a May release and one that I know I will devour the second I get my hands on it, which isn't great when I have exams to study for. 

This was my eBook for the month of April that I did not manage to get around to, meaning I broke my New Years Resolution of an ebook a month. I will be carrying this over to the month of May. This sounds like another good book to kick off my summer reading as it is a contemporary romance which sounds like it could be a fun read.

I am still listening to We Should Hand Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist on audiobook so I will hopefully get around to finishing that. I also want to read the third novella to The Selection series, The Queen, before I get to The Heir.

What do you plan to read in the month of May?

Sophie :)

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Wrap Up & Haul | April 2015

April has been, hands down, the busiest month of the year for me. I have had so much to do for uni, which has been awful, but have also had some of the most amazing experiences this month. However, I have not had a great month in terms of reading and only managed to read 2 books.

My Life In April...
- I had a really great night with some of my best friends celebrating a friend's birthday.
- My great gran turned 90 and we had a family party to celebrate.
- I had my first driving incident after around 2 and a half years of driving.
- We had our first super sunny day of the year which I spent with some great friends.
- I celebrated Easter with my family and friends.
- I finished my classes for my third year of uni.
- I got my hands on VIP tickets to see The Vamps on tour, which meant I got to meet the boys and be in the front row for the show! I will never forget that day!
- I discovered some really great new boybands to be a complete fangirl for.
- I had a fangirl meltdown when a member of my favourite band followed me on twitter! (it's sad, i know!)
- I had my first of my three exams for this semester.
- GREY'S ANATOMY! That's all I can say. This show kills me!

Watched In April...
- Little Shop Of Horrors (1989) - 3.5/5
- Love, Rosie - 5+/5 (new favourite!)
- Mockingjay Part 1 (rewatch) - 5/5
- Tangled (rewatch) - 4/5
- The Fault In Our Stars - 4.5/5
- Private Practice Season 2 - 4/5

Read In March...

 photo April01_zpsdalrsxfq.jpg

I Was Here by Gayle Forman -
I have been wanting to read this since it first came out and I am so glad I finally got around to it. This is about a girl whose best friend commits suicide and, since she finds this so unexpected, sets out to find out why. I really enjoyed this book. Suicide is a difficult topic to get right, in my opinion, but Gayle Forman did an incredible job of writing such a touching story. It did take me a little while to get into, hence the lower rating, but I ended up really enjoying it and the story stayed with me long after I finished the book. 4/5

The Selection Stories: The Prince and The Guard by Kiera Cass -
It is no secret that I loved the first three books in The Selection series and in anticipation of the release of The Heir I had to read the novellas which accompanied the first books. The Prince follows Maxon before and at the very beginning of The Selection, while The Guard takes place during the second book in the series. I enjoyed the novellas, The Prince more so than The Guard, and liked getting more insight into these characters but I did not feel they were necessary additions to the series. 4/5

Bought In April...

 photo April01_zpsjjsmwxtp.jpg

The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen -
I will admit that I wanted to read this purely because I love the title. I know very little about this book but I like the way the title sounds so I added it to my TBR. Then, when I found it for just £1.99(!!) on The Works website, I had to pick it up. All I know of this book is that it is a New Adult romance following, I believe, troubled characters. I am really excited to read this one as I have heard some great reviews.

Just A Girl Standing In Front Of A Boy by Lucy-Anne Holmes -
This was another absolute title buy. I loved Notting Hill so obviously if a book has a title which makes reference to that film it's only natural that I have to buy it. I had no idea what this was about when I bought it but this was another one I found for extremely cheap online and bought simply so that the price of postage was less than the price of the books. I believe this is a very much like a rom-com, such as Notting Hill, but as a book. 

Flora and Grace by Maureen Lee -
I know absolutely nothing about this book but my gran just finished reading it and enjoyed it so gave it to me as she thinks it's something I will like. As far as I can gather from Goodreads, I think this is an adult historical romance set during the Second World War. This is not my usual type of book but I like to try something different every now and again. My Gran's last recommendation was a success so hopefully this will be too.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson -
In an attempt to read all of Morgan Matson's books in publication order, I used my monthly Audible credit to get the audiobook of Second Chance Summer, her second novel. I have heard some great reviews about this book, all mentioning how sad this book is, so I am looking forward to listening to it. I don't know anything about this book but it is one I am wanting to go into blind.

Blogged In April...
- I hauled a lot of books that I absolutely needed to buy in March.
- I shared my April TBR.

That is April all wrapped up. What did you read in April? Also, how to you feel about the new 'blogged in' section of the wrap up?

Sophie :)