Thursday, 27 June 2013

Perfect Escape - Jennifer Brown

Perfect EscapePerfect Escape - Jennifer Brown
Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Kendra Bolten knows what it's like to be overshadowed by a sibling. Her older brother, Grayson, is a genius, but his OCD forces him to live life through a series of carefully coordinated routines. It seems as if he can't survive without counting, symmetry, constantly washing his hands - and the whole family revolving around him. Kendra feels that the only way she can shine in the presence of her brother is to be perfect - something she has down to an art. She's a straight-A student, has plenty of extracurricular activities, and always makes the right decisions. But when Kendra finds herself the ringleader of a cheating scandal in her Calc class, her mistake could jeopardize the perfection she's worked so hard to attain.

For once she knows exactly how Grayson feels when he expresses his wish to just run away from his OCD. Behind the wheel of her hand-me-down car, with Grayson asleep in the passenger seat, Kendra makes a decision. Together, they'll drive away from it all - get some distance, find help for Grayson, prove that she's still the perfect girl-in-control - and maybe her colossal mistake will look a little more forgivable. Eventually though, no matter how far they go, there is nothing for Kendra to do but to face what she's been running from. (Description from Date A Book)

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I'm a little rusty on review writing. I've been taking a break, and picking a book I want to gush about as my first review back was probably a bad idea - but it does deserve a bit of gushing. Not to be all clich├ęd or anything, but this book really was a perfect escape from heavy and over complicated stories and stressful real-life. While Kendra was at times very young and selfish, I loved her voice. It was a really touching story, especially with all the sibling interactions – I just adored it all.

Usually you think of road trips as a holiday; travelling over the country with the windows rolled down and music blasting on the radio. Kendra's trip in Perfect Escape was a bit different. Disguised as a road trip, but really an escape from reality, Kendra and her brother Grayson struggle to outrun issues they've left behind at home. For Kendra it's a high school mistake that threatens to destroy her perfect daughter and student status; and for Grayson it's an involuntary test of letting go of his constricting OCD struggles. What I loved about this book was that the main characters were fighting to find themselves without coming from broken families. There was no divorce or abuse, just a slight disconnection from each other; but Kendra and Grayson learn to be siblings again, and I adored seeing them get there.

It's hard to discuss the OCD focus in this novel without destroying how powerful it was. Perfect Escape is not the first book I’ve read with characters facing OCD, but it is the first I've read in a realistic setting. I loved the way Jennifer Brown tackled the topic, letting us see the good and bad sides of the condition, but allowing us to see that moving outside of a comfort zone can help the good days shine a bit. Grayson struggles when he's not counting, and his fears and anxieties often take over. But he was such an intelligent character and the emotion that came through every time he took that step outside of his self imposed safety box made me smile so much. I absolutely adored Grayson.

My favourite part of this book was not the road trip, or even the way OCD was approached, but the sibling interactions. So often in books siblings might exist, but actually seeing them interact becomes a minor part of the book. Perfect Escape isn't like that. With no romance and no real focus on a strong friendship except flashbacks to a Too-Perfect-To-Be-Real life from before, the main relationship in this book falls on Kendra and Grayson's connection. They fight, they argue, they drive each other mental, and they would do anything to be in the other's shoes. But all of that is overshadowed by the fact that they love each other. And I loved them in turn for being so real.

This was my first Jennifer Brown book, but I definitely want to read her other novels, because Perfect Escape really touched me. I loved it.

4.5/5 stars

(originally posted on Goodreads)

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Giveaway - we DARE YOU TO enter...


Are you a fan of Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits? Well here's your chance to win the next smash hit by the amazing YA Contemporary author!

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all.... (Description from Goodreads)

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Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia, I'm giving ONE lucky Aussie a chance to get their hands on this fantastic novel - trust me, you don't want to miss it. You can read my thoughts HERE. (spoiler: I loved it!)

It's really simply to enter.

Just leave us a comment telling us why you would like the book and then fill out the form below. Easy! You must be an Australian resident to enter.

Kelly Ryan

Kelly, we will be emailing you for your details soon, so keep refreshing your inbox! Congratulations again, and thanks to everyone for entering. 

* One entry per person.
* You must be at least 16 years old or have permission from your parents before entering.
* Must be an Australian resident (sorry international followers)
* The giveaway is open now and will run until 11:59pm (AEST) 19th June 2013
* Winners will be picked by and announced on the blog.
* Winners will also be emailed and have 1 week to reply before a new winner is picked.
* Prizes will be sent from the publisher. We are not responsible for lost or damaged property

Good Luck!


Thank you Harlequin Australia for the copy of Dare You To. 

Sunday, 2 June 2013

The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave #1) - Rick Yancey
Grade: YA

Rating: 5/5 stars

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up (Description from Goodreads)
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There is almost no way for me to put into words just how much I adored The 5th Wave - This book is by far the best book I’ve read this year and I know I’ll be obsessing about it for months to come. (Kerrie: I have a love/hate relationship with books that are full of tension (as this one was). I found myself glued to the book, unable to put it down, wanting to know what will happen next, all this with my stomach in knots.)

The world we’re introduced to is one crumbling. We’re given a very detailed and emotional tale about how humanity was vastly unprepared for life forms outside of Earth; and when those life forms – The Others – decide to wipe humans off the face of the world – well, let’s just say it’s going to be extremely hard to fight back. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who is intrigued by sci-fi stories, but never obsessed with them. (Kerrie: I'm not against Sci-Fi but I don't seek it out. I am a Roswell (TV show) fan so I'm good with aliens) The 5th Wave could be the story to make me obsessed – at least with humans fighting against invasion stories. That’s partly what this book is all about: fighting for survival. I loved the way the world was set up. There are new rules, new ways to prepare yourself for the worst. Your old worries (like whether your crush likes you or not) are thrown out the window. This is a dark and dangerous book and it tackles some deep moral issues; but it was so full of energy and emotion that you just can’t put it down.

There are a lot of hard decisions in this book. A lot comes down to trust: who to trust, how to learn to trust and how to get over the guilt if you decide you can’t bring yourself to trust and must fight for your own survival. I can understand why, in a world full of live and die situations, the characters would choose to fight like hell to stay alive no matter the cost. But it made for a very emotional and intense setting, with a lot of shoot-outs and death. The tricky part comes when the world has faced an incredible amount of destruction, when there’s a limited amount of humans left on the planet and everyone knows it – how do you know who you can trust and who is an alien clone out to get you? don’t know, so you just keep fighting. There was that constant voice in the back of your head that was telling you it’s a kill or be killed world – it definitely kept the blood pumping.(Kerrie: Since Cassie didn't know who to trust I didn't know who to trust - So it was just a full on, stomach in knots, unputdownable novel)

I really enjoyed the way the book was set up – sections dividing up the events and switching point of views and chain of events with every new section. I loved getting a look at multiple situations and characters, and I really wasn’t expecting that. The back blurb introduces us to Cassie Sullivan and Evan Walker, and you assume they will be our focus characters, especially when Cassie starts the book off. You start to think the story is Cassie’s alone, when it’s so much more than that. (Kerrie: I LOVED Cassie! Not only was she a survivor, she did it in a way where she didn't truly loose herself. Yes, she changed. She killed. She lost her innocence. But she still held on to her love for her brother and her humour in times of horror) Cassie’s fight for survival is only part of the story, with her almost standing alone against a force so powerful you question her right mind for thinking she has a chance against an entire alien race. But despite that, you can’t help admiring her strength and determination, her struggle to trust without losing hope in the world. I adored her history and loss and the emotion she brought to the table.

But it’s not a single person against the world. Military base camps are being set up, training children to identify and eliminate the enemy. When the world crumbles around you, I’m not sure giving seven year olds guns is the way to go; but it certainly sends a powerful message. I loved the strict training and intense indoctrination at these military camps. The lifestyle, harsh mental stress and reimagining of these teens and kids – preparing them for an existence of killing humans or human look-a-likes is just so confronting. I’ve deliberately not mentioned characters here because it would absolutely ruin the shocking twists that pop up – you have to read it for yourself!

The one person who does deserve a mention though, is Evan Walker. I may be slightly obsessed with this book boy. Evan was a puzzling mystery, one that I thought I’d worked out early, but you come to realise you’ll never completely know Evan. In a world where death is almost literally around every corner, it’s hard to remain innocent and untouched – and Evan’s no exception – but he was one of the sweetest characters I’ve come across lately. His fiercely protective nature when it came to Cassie, the touching way he sat and washed her hair, and the almost reckless offer to go on dangerous missions and jump into situations to keep her out of danger made me melt. But what I loved most was how he never once tried to control Cassie. He offered, pleaded and suggested for her to stay away from trouble, but he let her make up her own mind and stood by her every step of the way. (Kerrie: I love how he was always there for Cassie. I really have no words for Evan, other than amazing. Anything else I say might be a spoiler)

I delayed reading the end of the book because I knew there was going to be a gigantic wait for the sequel. But this is the sort of book you can’t put down. A rescue, a fight and minimal chance of survival...and then the final pages hit with questions pouring out of your mind and no hope of answers for months to come! It’s going to be a very long wait. (Kerrie: This book...that ending was torture! It's really cruel that we now have to wait and see what happens to everyone)

An incredible start to an addictive series. The 5th Wave is a book everyone should get their hands on.

5/5 stars

(Originally Posted on Goodreads)