Monday, 28 January 2013

Hooked - Liz Fichera

Hooked (Hooked, #1)Hooked - Liz Fichera
Grade: YA
Rating: 4/5 Stars

When Native American Fredericka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done.

But Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred.

But there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile...


(Description taken from Goodreads)
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You've got to love books that don't shy away from the big issues: racism, gender inequality, addictions and abuse, social and financial differences. And this wonderful book explores it all.

Hooked is about a called Fred (yes that's right, a girl) who is a phenomenon golfer. She gets spotted by her High Schools golf coach who convinces her to join their losing boys Golf team. Unbeknown to Fred, in order to make room for her on the team the coach had to let one of the old players go. The players are the popular rich white boys of the school, everything that Fred's not, and to say they aren't happy is an understatement. Especially Ryan, whose best friend spot on the team was taken by Fred. But what happens when Ryan starts noticing more about Fred then her golf swing?

I loved Fred. She is such a strong female character. No matter how hard her life got (be it school, the team, her family) she always soldiered on with her head held high. She had goals and wouldn't let anything or anyone stand in her way. Bravo! Now that's a role model for kids today. More characters should be like her.
Unfortunately I can't say the same for Ryan. I honestly didn't like him for 95% of the novel. He knew his rights from his wrongs and yet he never had the guts to stand up for his beliefs. He was weak and kept on making horrible decisions. Although he redeems himself at some stage, by that point I was hoping Fred would end up with Sam (the very scary looking but incredibly sweet friend). Now there's a good guy character! I cannot explain how excited I am for Sam's book. I just know it’s going to be amazing.

Other all, Hooked is a great novel that isn't afraid to ask the hard questions, and for that I applaud Liz Fichera.


Originally Posted on Goodreads

Thursday, 24 January 2013

What Happened to Goodbye - Sarah Dessen

What Happened to GoodbyeWhat Happened to Goodbye - Sarah Dessen
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Who is the real McLean?

Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out. (Description from Goodreads)

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I have been slowly making my way through Sarah Dessen’s amazing list of publications, and realised I still hadn’t read her latest novel, ‘What Happened to Goodbye’ – being Summer and a time for kicking back with a good book, I thought what better time to read a comfort novel by one of my favourite contemporary authors? ‘What Happened to Goodbye’ was a perfect book.

Mclean Sweet has not been herself for two years – not since her parents split up and a massive custody battle finally landed her with her dad, travelling around America while he fixes up failing restaurants. I was really interested in Mclean’s coping mechanism, using her middle name – Elizabeth – to recreate herself in different ways as Eliza, Liz, Beth etc, in a new towns and new ways, leaving the old Mclean behind. But what was more interesting was watching Mclean become herself again without any conscious decision to look back. The self discovery in Sarah Dessen books always makes me happy; to see broken characters become whole again is pretty uplifting.

What I love most about Sarah Dessen books, other than the patterns and flashes of past characters and situations that make the books join together, are the relationships. The friendships in ‘What Happened to Goodbye’ were so real. The way awkward characters remained wary of new friendships or how the nerdy characters brought sci-fi references into everyday conversations. The dialogue is always so easy and flows so well. What made this book better in terms of relationships was the family involvement. A lot of contemporary novels ignore the family side of things, even when family is the reason for broken characters in the first place. But with Mclean’s issues, and the storyline itself, having a pretty strong family involvement with an ugly divorce; family cannot be ignored and I really liked the family plot in this book.

For most contemporary, and Sarah Dessen books I’ve read; a guy helps bring the girl back to reality. ‘What Happened to Goodbye’ is no different, but our guy isn’t what I expected. Dave Wade - neighbour, smart guy and model train lover (sort of) is the obvious choice for romantic love interest, but while the signs are all there, the chemistry present, an actual relationship is slow to develop and not very detailed. It was refreshing to just have a story and not be so caught up on when the characters will get together.

But it’s not all family and changing identities. There’s always a subplot – an occupation and hobby that the characters keep coming back to. For Mclean and her life, this is the restaurant world and basketball. I thought they’d both be pretty big features in the story, especially the basketball because Mclean’s history focused pretty heavily on College Basketball; but it was the life of a restaurant consultant that we see more of. I’m always interested in seeing what hobbies are going to pop up next.

Another wonderful story – another amazing comfort read. Looking forward to the next Dessen book.

5/5 stars

(Originally Posted on Goodreads)

Friday, 18 January 2013

What's Left of Me - Kat Zhang

What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles, #1)What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1)
                                                             - Kat Zhang
Grade: YA

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

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‘What’s Left of Me’ was an exciting and dangerous novel. I don’t know what I’d been expecting from this book, a sad story about how Eva, a soul trapped inside her shared body, would be forever stuck without a way to gain control – but it was so much more than that.

We are told at the start of the novel that, at birth, there are there are two souls – two consciousnesses – within a single body; existing without trouble. But two souls can’t exist together forever; one soul will dominate and the other will fade away. A sad way to start life, growing attached to two people, two personalities, only to lose one over time. But not everyone seems to fit into this system. This is where the plot gets exciting almost instantly; we’re introduced to the term ‘Hybrids’ – people who keep their two souls. I loved this. We’re told they are dangerous; spreading destruction and promoting anarchy in a world that is controlled and structured. They are a danger to society. Our main characters, Eva and Addie, struggle with the knowledge that hybrids walk throughout the world, but they hide their own hybrid secret at the same time.

Addie and Eva are the same, and yet completely different. They share the same body and memories, but Eva was never meant to survive. After years of tests and hospital visits, Eva and Addie decided to keep Eva’s existence a secret so they could attempt to live a normal life. I loved seeing the story told from Eva’s POV, even though she rarely had control of their body, with Addie being the dominant soul. It was like watching the story from the outside, while still being involved and experiencing everything – just minus some of the control. I loved the mix of first person – “I” – to show Eva’s voice, combined with a focus on the shared aspect of the body – “Our arms” “We hurt” “They were looking at us” – it made the story an incredibly interesting way to be told.

I really liked Eva. For someone who had been shut up inside her mind, and had been forgotten by her parents and society, she had such a strong presence and personality: determined, emotional and understanding. After finding out there was a way to move again, she put so much hope and effort into taking control, despite the dangers; learning to talk, walk and even love. I couldn’t help cheering every time Eva got control of their body. Addie, on the other hand, was harder to love. She wasn’t a bad character, she had a hesitant nature that you can’t really blame her for; but it was tricky to like. She’d been so used to Eva as a background person, so used to having control and being dominant, that when Eva finally pushes through for a few seconds, Addie can’t let go. I had mixed feelings about this. There’s no way to understand what it’d be like to be in your body, but to have no control and to watch someone else live your life. But at the same time, I found Addie to be selfish sometimes. She didn’t want Eva to fade, but didn’t want her getting equal body control, even after witnessing that the body could be shared by souls.

The story is not just dangerous because Eva and Addie are keeping their dual-soul secret, but because of Clinics being set up all over the country for “hybrid kids” – kids who still have two consciousnesses and need to be “fixed.” The fear of being accused of hybridity within society is very real; of being removed from your family for being different, illegal. I was shocked by the lengths taken to destroy the extra soul in a hybrid. But it definitely made the story edgy.

My only issue with the book was the lack of explanation on their history. We hear about how the Americas are eliminating hybrids, and how there are hybrids on foreign shores; but there’s no information on how or why the hybrid nature started. When did it begin? How did two souls in one body become the norm from birth, or has it always been this way? I wanted more background information for all my questions.

‘What’s left of Me’ is an exciting book that makes you think. I’m definitely getting the sequel as soon as I can.

4.5/5 stars

(Originally Posted on Goodreads)

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Indigo Awakening - Jordan Dane

Indigo Awakening (The Hunted, #1)Indigo Awakening - Jordan Dane
Grade: YA
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Voices told Lucas Darby to run. Voices no one else can hear. He's warned his sister not to look for him, but Rayne refuses to let her troubled brother vanish. On her desperate search, she meets Gabriel Stewart, a runaway with mysterious powers and far too many secrets. Rayne can't explain her crazy need to trust the strange yet compelling boy — even though he scares her.

They discover Lucas is running from the Believers, a fanatical church secretly hunting psychic kids — gifted 'Indigo' teens feared to be the next evolution of mankind. Now Rayne's only hope is Gabe, who is haunted by an awakening power — a force darker than either of them imagine. A force that could doom them all

Description taken from Goodreads
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Indigo Awakening is a rather intense read. Its dark, full of mystery and has a touch of romance- some of my favourite elements in novels. Saying that I still can't quite figure out how I feel about this book.

I'm usually not a fan if multiple POVs in novels. I find that as soon as I start getting into the story, the POV changes and I'm forced to try and get into someone else's head all over again. It loses that connection you feel towards the main character because you're not with them for long enough. But the way this book is written, with so many different players, the multiple POVs are necessary in order to get all the information. And there's A LOT going on.
It begins with Lucas Darby weaving his way through the streets of LA following the orders of a voice in his head said that's telling him if he stops the 'Believers' will find him. This voice gives pretty accurate instructions to be a figment of Lucas's imagination. You later find out that these 'Believers' are the people from the mental hospital in which Lucas has escaped. They are also known as the "church".

The "church" is in fact an organization whose goal is to "save the masses from a future they aren't capable of understanding". This means seeking, capturing, studying and eventually killing the Indigo kids-- pretty intense stuff.
What are Indigo Kids? Well apparently they are intelligent, gifted teen psychics who are frequently misdiagnosed with behavioural disorders. Going by this novel, some Indigo Kids claim to see ghosts, others can manipulate minds and some still can mentally "talk" with one another.

Later on, we also get the POV of the head of the "church" as well as the missionaries the organization has hired to capture Lucas.

Rayne is one of Lucas's older sisters and is the only one Lucas truly trusts. She is determined to find him and keep him safe from their older sister (a church employee). On her quest to find her brother she meets a guy called Gabriel, whom she has an instant connection. Gabriel is someone who is also hiding a dark secret and is essentially running from his past, but in order to help Lucas, he is forced to stop running and takes control of his life.

We also get to read the POV of other Indigo Kids in hiding. As I said before there's A LOT of changes in perspectives in this novel.

I liked that this book was based on something that could very well be real in this world. It makes you question whether that person you know who you thought was a little.... eccentric.. could in fact be an 'Indigo Kid'.

I'm actually looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book. The ending of book indicates some interesting things are in store for book 2.


Originally Posted on Goodreads

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Chasing Magic (Downside Ghosts #5) - Stacia Kane

Chasing Magic (Downside Ghosts, #5)Chasing Magic (Downside Ghosts #5) - Stacia Kane
Grade: Adult UF
Rating: 5/ 5 Stars


Magic-wielding Churchwitch and secret addict Chess Putnam knows better than anyone just how high a price people are willing to pay for a chemical rush. But when someone with money to burn and a penchant for black magic starts tampering with Downside’s drug supply, Chess realizes that the unlucky customers are paying with their souls—and taking the innocent with them, as the magic-infused speed compels them to kill in the most gruesome ways possible.

As if the streets weren’t scary enough, the looming war between the two men in her life explodes, taking even more casualties and putting Chess squarely in the middle. Downside could become a literal ghost town if Chess doesn’t find a way to stop both the war and the dark wave of death-magic, and the only way to do that is to use both her addiction and her power to enter the spell and chase the magic all the way back to its malevolent source. Too bad that doing so will probably kill Chess—if the war doesn’t first destroy the man who’s become her reason for living.

Description taken from Goodreads
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Just when you think The Downside Ghost series couldn’t get any more addictive (no pun intended) Stacia Kane delivers another brilliantly dark, gritty Urban Fantasy mystery to the series with Chasing Magic.

Our favourite Debunker, Chess, finds herself on another investigation, but this time its strictly for Downside. Someone is supplying dark magic induced speed, which is causing murderous rampages in Downside. Chess and Terrible must figure out who’s behind this horror and stop them before it’s too late. But of course this isn’t the only thing Chess has to worry about. Lex has declared war on Bump and his first target is Terrible.

I loved Chess’s character growth in Chasing Magic. She still makes mistakes, but Chess has become a much stronger person as she finds herself doing things that absolutely terrify her. She also fights her insecurities; all those horribly haunting things in her past, in order to be with Terrible. And that is why I find myself not only admiring Chess but also cheering for her every step of the way.

And her relationship with Terrible? Well now that they are finally together, it’s truly beautiful. Can’t wait for more Terrible goodness in the next instalment of The Downside Ghosts series.

Absolutely loved Chasing Magic. 5 out of 5


Orignially posted on Goodreads

Friday, 4 January 2013

Spark (Elemental #2) - Brigid Kemmerer

Spark (Elemental, #2)Spark (Elemental #2)- Brigid Kemmerer
Grade- YA
Rating- 5/ 5 Stars

Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally. Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can't. Gabriel has always had his brothers to rely on, especially his twin, Nick. But when an arsonist starts wreaking havoc on their town, all the signs point to Gabriel. Only he's not doing it. And no one seems to believe him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Because Layne has a few secrets of her own...
(Description from Goodreads)
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Brigid Kemmerer has done it again with another breath-taking, un-putdown-able novel.

If you haven’t started this series… what are you waiting for? I mean seriously, four hot brothers, each controlling an element but being so powerful that others fear them. The series has plenty of action (both the Elemental Guide and other Elementals are trying to kill them), and romance to get the heart pumping.

Spark is told through Gabriel’s (the “hot- head” brother, the one more likely to throw punches first and ask questions later) eyes, so I always suspected it would be different from Storm. What I didn’t expect was Gabriel’s angst. There were a few scenes where I felt my heart break for Gabriel, and I found myself drawn to this “troubled” brother. In Storm, we got a taste of Gabriel’s relationship with his brothers, but in Spark we really understand just how much their parents deaths affected Gabriel and his relationship with his brothers.

I want to go on record to say I really LOVE Michael. We are given a good indication on just how hard things were for the eldest brother as he tried to keep his family together.

Just like comparing Gabriel to his brothers, everything about this book was even more intense than Storm (and let me tell you, I LOVED Storm). I could not put this book down. Spark is just amazing. Everything about this book, from the romance (*fans self* HOT HOT HOT) to Gabriel’s relationship with his brothers, had me craving for more. I don’t want this series to end, but at the same time I can’t wait for the next books in the series.

5 out of 5. A brilliant read!


Originally Posted on Goodreads