Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: Four: A Divergent Story Collection by Veronica Roth

Title: Four: A Divergent Story Collection
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year of Release: 2014
ISBN: 9780062285683

Source: Purchased
Number of Pages: 208

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.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth comes a companion volume to the worldwide bestselling DIVERGENT series, told from the per-spective of the immensely popular character Tobias. The four pieces included here—THE TRANSFER, THE INITIATE, THE SON, and THE TRAITOR—plus three additional exclusive scenes, give readers an electrifying glimpse into the history and heart of Tobias, and set the stage for the epic saga of the DIVERGENT trilogy.

I really enjoyed this book. After reading the Divergent series, if you've read my reviews on those books, you should know that I didn't really enjoy them very much. In summary, I thought the writing was poor, the characters weren't written well, and there was definitely not enough detail. The combination of these three things really prevented me from enjoying the book as much as I know I would have should these three key things been included. (Writing, characters, detail- that's how a book wins my heart). 

It's safe to say that I didn't have very high expectations of this book due to how disappointed I was with the Divergent series as a whole. So, imagine my surprise when I realised that I actually truly liked  this book. 

Four was actually a really great read! Short, sweet and simple, but very engaging. I really liked the fact that it was written from Tobias' perspective, I feel like we didn't get enough of it in Allegiant. I loved the short stories, I really liked the insight we got into Marcus and the way he treated his son, and Tobias' thought process at the Choosing Ceremony. 

It was a very interesting and insightful book, and made me love Four even more than I already did. His initiation into Dauntless, his beef with Eric, and his detailed experiences in his fear landscape was particularly interesting, and I liked the path Roth chose to take when writing about these events. We hear brief mentions of them during the series, but to have it explained in detail was super interesting. 

It may be possible that I enjoyed this book more than the entire series. Perhaps if the series had been written from Tobias' perspective to begin with, it would have been much better in terms of writing quality and detail. I still believe the character development needed a bit more work, but overall, I loved this book! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: Love & Misadventure and Lullabies by Lang Leav

Love & Misadventure: 
Title: Love & Misadventure
Author: Lang Leav
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Year of Release: 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4494-5614-6
Source: Purchased
Number of Pages: 155

Beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully conceived, Love and Misadventure will take you on a rollercoaster ride through an ill-fated love affair- from the initial butterflies to the soaring heights- through to the devastating plunge. Lang Leav has an unnerving ability to see inside the hearts and minds of her readers. Her talent for translating complex emotions with astonishing simplicity has won her a cult following of devoted fans from all over 
the world. 

Title: Lullabies
Author: Lang Leav
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing 
Year of Release: 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4494-6107-2
Source: Gifted
Number of Pages: 248

A sequel to the hugely popular, best-selling Love & Misadventure, Lullabies continues to explore the intricacies of love and loss.
Set to a musical theme, love's poetic journey in this new, original collection begins with a Duet and travels through Interlude and Finale with an Encore popular piece from the best-selling Love & Misadventure. Lang Leav's evocative poetry speaks to the soul of anyone who is on this journey.
Leav has an unnerving ability to see inside the hearts and minds of her readers. Her talent for translating complex emotions with astonishing simplicity has won her a cult following of devoted fans from all over the world.

Both these books have a very similar, almost identical style, feel and structure, and I have very similar things to say about both so I thought I would review both these books simultaneously. 

I read Love & Misadventure back in July, and Lullabies in November, and I can honestly say that I was blown away by both of them. They are such beautiful books that contain the most exquisite and well-written poetry. 

Lang Leav has a very unique way of appealing to the hearts, minds and souls of her readers through her words, something that many poets and authors struggle to do. This connection has allowed readers to truly identify with the poems she writes.

Her poetry, both simple and elaborate, is so beautifully written that it not only allows you to apply it to your own life and experiences, but even makes you feel a bit better in knowing that there is someone else who has shared this experience and understands, despite the fact that it was under completely different circumstances, at a completely different place and time, and with another person. 

If anyone has loved and lost before, Lang Leav's poetry will, without a doubt, truly speak to you and capture your mind and heart in a whirlwind of artfully strung together words and cleverly designed poetry. 

Her writing style is one that is very rare to find amongst the waves of new books and authors breaking into the industry, and I am so pleased to have discovered this poet. She is my absolute favourite.

In both her books she has managed to utilise her experiences with love and loss in such a way that you can feel her emotions. This is a skill I cannot hope to achieve myself, and I greatly admire Lang Leav for not only being able to do it, but for doing it so well. 

The feelings I got when I was reading her poetry are ones I can only describe as the ones you get when you listen to a beautiful song that sounds like it was written specifically for you, about your life.

I highly recommend both these books, they are truly wonderful, and the perfect antidote for a broken heart, or the cause of a lot of nostalgia. 

If you have read either of these, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 

You can buy both these books from The Book Depository (links below) for very affordable prices, and I think these books would make the perfect Christmas gift for a special someone in your life. *winks*
Love & Misadventure ($14.14 AUD)
Lullabies ($14.63 AUD)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Review: Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuire

Title: Beautiful Oblivion
Author: Jamie McGuire
Publisher: Atria Books
Year of Release: 2014
ISBN: 9781476759586 
Source: Purchased
Number of Pages: 320
The Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster phenomenon continues in the first heart-pounding new adult romance in The Maddox Brothers series.

Fiercely independent Camille "Cami" Camlin gladly moved on from her childhood before it was over. She has held down a job since before she could drive, and moved into her own apartment after her freshman year of college. Now tending bar at The Red Door, Cami doesn’t have time for much else besides work and classes, until a trip to see her boyfriend is cancelled, leaving her with a first weekend off in almost a year.

Trenton Maddox was the king of Eastern State University, dating co-eds before he even graduated high school. His friends wanted to be him, and women wanted to tame him, but after a tragic accident turned his world upside down, Trenton leaves campus to come to grips with the crushing guilt. 

Eighteen months later, Trenton is living at home with his widower father, and works full-time at a local tattoo parlor to help with the bills. Just when he thinks his life is returning to normal, he notices Cami sitting alone at a table at The Red. 

As the baby sister of four rowdy brothers, Cami believes she’ll have no problem keeping her new friendship with Trenton Maddox strictly platonic. But when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever—even if she is the only reason their already broken family could fall apart.

In the first installment of the Maddox Brothers books, readers can experience the rush of reading Beautiful Disaster for the first time, all over again.

These Maddox boys are just impossible to hate. Or ignore. They're so addictive, their characters, their stories, everything. I thought it would be impossible to like this book more than Beautiful Disaster, and while I was right, it was pretty close! 

Trent and Cami. Their relationship is hinted at and mentioned briefly throughout the series, but we as readers never got an insight into how they started dating, why, or their relationship in general. In this book, all is revealed.

Trent is an amazing character though. He's hilarious and very easily likeable. Some of his commentary and wit is honestly laugh-out-loud funny! I loved that he was one of the main characters in this book and that his character was built upon so wonderfully.  

This book is set in the same time period as Beautiful Disaster, and while that's great, it's starting to become very repetitive. Which becomes annoying. While it's from another character's POV, I think I would have enjoyed the book, and the series as a whole, much more if it was less repetitive. 

Cami is a great character, however repetitiveness comes into play again with her. Apart from her personality differences to Abby, both protagonists are hiding something when they fall in love with their Maddox boy and try to distance themselves from them. They then fall into denial when they start to develop feelings for them. 

As for their love interests, both Travis and Trent love their women fiercely. While I understand it's a family trait, it was repetitive. 

Beautiful Oblivion felt a lot like I was reading Beautiful Disaster again, just with a new centre couple. It was annoying. 

I really loved the ending though. The plot twist was brilliant and I really liked the way that it had been built upon throughout the novel, and not revealed until the very last page. Other than that and Trent's humour, there's not much else I really enjoyed about this book. 

Definitely a must read though for Beautiful fans!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Review: A Beautiful Wedding by Jamie McGuire

Title: A Beautiful Wedding
Author: Jamie McGuire
Publisher: Atria Books
Year of Release: 2013
ISBN: 1476759545 
Source: Purchased
Number of Pages: 146

You know that Abby Abernathy unexpectedly became Mrs. Maddox. But what do you really know?

Why did Abby pop the question?
What secrets were shared before the ceremony?
Where did they spend their wedding night?
Who else knew about it . . . and didn’t tell?

Everything about Abby and Travis’s elopement was top-secret . . . until now. Fans of Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster will get all of their questions answered in this whirlwind tale of the wedding day (and night!)—and as with all good stories, this one will definitely have been worth the wait.

I wasn't expecting much from this book, considering both the length and the fact that it's a .5 book in the series. While I wouldn't say it blew me away, it was certainly a very good read!

This novella was short, sweet, and answered a lot of questions left open at the end of Beautiful/Walking Disaster. Definitely a must read for fans of this series! Don't expect too much from it, but it is a lovely book. 

It picks up right where Beautiful/Walking Disaster left off, with Travis and Abby booking a flight to Vegas for their wedding. I was really annoyed at Abby in this one. Travis is so in love with her, and the main reason she's marrying him is so he'll have an alibi. Poor Travis. Either way though, these two are head over heels for each other.

The writing in this book felt a little rushed, like no effort had really gone into it. While the details of the wedding, both before, during and after were certainly there, the writing itself wasn't all up to scratch. 

As for the details of the wedding night, well, let's just say it was detailed. 

The very end of the book was beautiful though! It reminded me a little of the '19 years later' in Harry Potter. It was such a wonderful conclusion to the series and very well thought-out. 

There's not much more I can say about this book, despite the negatives, it's definitely a book to read for fans of the series.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Title: Walking Disaster
Author: Jamie McGuire
Publisher: Atria Books
Year of Release: 2013
ISBN: 1476712980
Source: Gifted
Number of Pages: 433

Finally, the highly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Disaster. 
Can you love someone too much?
Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.
In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. But just when he thinks he is invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.
Every story has two sides. In Beautiful Disaster, Abby had her say. Now it’s time to see the story through Travis’s eyes.

It's like this. Once you get inside Travis' head, you never want to leave it. 

He's an excellent narrator- incredibly funny and torturously saddening. If you liked Beautiful Disaster, then you'll love this! It's basically the same book, just from Travis' point of view. While that may make it sound repetitive, it's surprisingly different! 

All the hype this series is receiving may be a little overrated though - it's excellent, but don't let high expectations allow these books to be a let down for you. Just appreciate them for what they are. 

This is another well-written and well-structured book by McGuire. Travis is just so addictive! You'll be bringing this book with you everywhere, telling everyone about it, and you certainly won't be able to get it off your mind. If you are, let me know how the hell you managed it! 

Walking Disaster is a phenomenal book, with amazingly well-written characters and a story line to die for. It's the perfect read when in need of a distraction, after a disastrous  day, or after a disastrous relationship. 

Just read Jamie McGuire! This author is one of the best romance writers on the shelves.

Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Title: Beautiful Disaster
Author: Jamie McGuire
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Year of Release: 2011
ISBN: 9781476712048
Source: Gifted 
Number of Pages: 416

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand. 

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

I'll start by saying what a brilliant romance writer McGuire is. I haven't read a romance/drama book in quite some time, and this book was the perfect way to re-introduce myself to it. I have only wonderful things to say about this spectacular piece of art. 

While my first thoughts about this book was that it was kind of cliché, which it is, I still think it is an amazingly well-structured, written and executed book. The plot itself is brilliant and the characters are so well-written and easy to fall in love with. 

Particularly Travis, who has been so accurately portrayed in pictures by the actor Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf, Arrow). Let me show you what I mean: 

 It's a little impossible to not fall completely in love with this character. And then there's Abby. Sweet, smart, beautiful Abby, known by everyone as the 'good girl'. Abby has a dark secret though, something that connects her to Travis in a way she doesn't want to accept.

This is a ridiculously addictive book, it's incredibly hard to stop reading it. Or thinking about it. Don't let the cliché factor turn you off! The writing is brilliant, the characters are brilliant, the plot is brilliant, and that's all there is to know!

Pick up a copy of this book and get reading guys, this one is definitely a must!

What do you think will happen to Abby's father?
How did you feel about the ending?
Did you want to punch Megan in the face as much as I did? 

Monday, July 07, 2014

Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Year of Release: 2005 (this edition-2012)
ISBN: 0141346094
Source: Gifted

Number of Pages: 213

Katherine V thought boys were gross
Katherine X just wanted to be friends
Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail
K-19 broke his heart 
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun--but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

I'm going to get the bad stuff out of the way first before I go on to tell you what's good about this book. 

Things this book lacked:
- Consistent and unpredictable plot
- Flexibility
- Length
- Well-written characters

Things this book definitely did not lack:
- Anagrams
- Footnotes
- Math
- Tangents
- The words 'fug', 'fugging' and 'mother fugger'
- Arabic words

Overall, I really did like this book, but my goodness was there a lot of boring, tiresome and irrelevant sh*t in there. I get that that it is part of the storyline and supposed to build upon Colin's character, but some of it was just completely immaterial. 

The story, basically, is based around a child prodigy named Colin who gets dumped by the nineteenth girl he's dated named Katherine and his best friend Hassan takes him on a road trip with no particular destination in mind. Eventually they end up in this crappy town called Gutshot in Tennessee and start living with a girl they meet there named Lindsey and her mother, because apparently it's normal to start living with complete strangers in an unfamiliar town. 
Throughout the book, Colin is trying to develop a formula to predict the future of all romantic relationships, specifically, who will dump who in said relationship.  
While this is really interesting, it's also stupid. Logically, how can one predict the future with math? The future is unpredictable, something Colin eventually came to realise in the conclusion of this book. While the math involved is arguably interesting to those who understand and like math, it was certainly mind-numbing to me. 

Then there is the issue of the appendix. Appendices do not belong in fiction. Sometimes there are exceptions, but as a general rule, I do not think they should be present in fictional work. Fiction requires no real explanation, no justification. Appendices are pointless in fictional books. 

Now for the positive stuff. Overall, I did enjoy this book. I always enjoy John Green's work, I think he is a very talented writer and I enjoy his books immensely. The writing in this book was excellent. Without his wonderful writing, this book would have bombed and I probably wouldn't have made it to the end. I did find some parts of it funny, particularly the Colin and TOC fight, which was downright hilarious. Hassan was a particularly humorous character, and he was fun to read about. 
I was really intrigued by this book and is one I will most probably read again! 

The good in this book definitely outweighs the bad, and I think it is worth reading if you're interested. 

Why did Colin and Hassan move in with total strangers?
What's Colin's and Hassan's parents been doing? 
When do they finally go home?
Do you think this book needed a few more anagrams?