Sunday, 30 March 2014

Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby


Title: Golden

Author: Jessi Kirby

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication date: May 2013

Format: eBook | 288 pages

Genre: YA | Contemporary 


Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.



My thoughts:

It's books like this that encourage me to read more contemporary. I really don't pick up books like this often enough.

What made this book, in my opinion, was the plot. I was completely invested in the story involved and so I just had to find out what happened. It was pretty obvious how the book would actually end, but I was excited to read how it would happen exactly and I wasn't disappointed.

I found the characters to be extremely relatable too. Parker was the girl who seemed to be living for everyone else apart from herself. She was so focused on not disappointing her mother that she almost mistook her dreams for her own. I loved how the mystery of Julianna forced her to challenge herself in every way possible. The rest of the characters involved were just as loveable as Parker was, though in some cases, I wish I saw a lot more of them. Especially Trevor, he was an interesting character and I would have liked to have got to know him better.

Overall I really liked this read. It was endearing and pretty quick to get through. I would recommend it to fans of this genre for sure.

My rating: 7/10

Jessi Kirby:

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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Review: Dyed and Gone by Beth Yarnall


Title: Dyed and Gone

Author: Beth Yarnall

Publisher: Entangled Select

Publication date: March 25th 2014

Format: ebook | 298 pages

Genre: Mystery | Adult


Hairstylist Azalea March is looking forward to a wild weekend in Las Vegas with her friends. Oh, sure, they’re supposed to be there on business, attending the biggest hair show on the west coast, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a little fun. But fun quickly turns to drama. On the first morning of the show, Dhane, the biggest celeb of the hair-styling world, is found dead. As it turns out Azalea’s friend Vivian not only knew Dhane, but the tale she weaves of how they met is faker than a showgirl’s uh…assets. When Vivian confesses to the murder and is arrested, Azalea knows there’s no way she could have done it and suspects Vivian may be trying to protect someone. But who?

Azalea now has to convince Alex, the sexy detective from her past, to help her prove Vivian’s innocence and comb through clues more twisted than a spiral perm. But the truth is stranger than anything found on the Las Vegas Strip, and proving Vivian’s innocence turns out to be more difficult than transforming a brunette into a blonde.

My thoughts:

Dyed and Gone follows Azalea March as she tries her best to solve the murder of well known celebrity, Dhane - well known in the hairdressing world at least. Azalea soon finds herself turning into trouble at every corner so enlists the help of Alex, the hunky detective that she just happens to be having a little bit of a spat with. 

I have to admit straight off, I didn't like this book. It was one that I didn't connect to at all - I couldn't relate to most of the characters and the plot didn't captivate me as much as I would have liked. However, I really liked Alex, the detective, and Juan, one of Azalea's best friends. I thought Alex was a cute character that played off the 'protective guy' feel really well seeing as he's already a member of the police force. Juan just made me laugh, end of. Especially towards the end of the book - he came out with some amazing one liners that made me giggle.

I don't really have much else to say about this one. It was just one of those reads I didn't get on with. I couldn't connect to most of the characters and I lost interest really quickly. Finishing it became more of a chore than anything which is not something any reader likes to happen. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in please don't let me put you off.

My rating: 3/10

Beth Yarnall:

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Friday, 21 March 2014

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano


Title: Wither

Author: Lauren DeStefano

Series: The Chemical Garden #1

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication date: March 2011

Format: eBook | 368 pages

Genre: YA | Dystopian


Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

My thoughts:

This book had been on my wish-list since it came out now and I've only just picked it up. I remember it getting so much hype when it came out and it put me off a little because I didn't want to read it straight away and end up disappointed. I have to say though, for the amount of praise I remember it getting from reviewers, I actually don't understand why after reading it. It was an okay read, but not as fantastic as people made it out to be. To each their own I guess - it's their opinion. 

What I didn't like most about this read was that it seemed a little disjointed at quite a few moments in the plot. For a start, I would be midway through a chapter and in a new paragraph the time has progressed by a few days or even months with no warning. And even then, looking at the book as a whole, the whole idea of the virus killing off women at 20 and men at 25 didn't really make sense. I know it's made up and everything, but there has to be some elements that make it believable - it didn't sit well with me at all so it made the whole story and characters hard to relate to. 

Rhine is a pretty good character in my opinion, except for a few choices that got me a little frustrated with her. She tried to look out for everyone and I sympathised with her when unfortunate events occurred. She was determined and she had her strengths but she was also caring and it made me root for her. The problem I had with the characters was Gabriel and Linden. Gabriel made no impression on me whatsoever! I have no idea if it's because he doesn't play enough of a part or if I didn't like his personality in general but I pretty much didn't care about what happened to him. But Linden was something else. I thought he was an incredibly weak character. Both in his personality and the way he was portrayed by the author. I hated him. He had no clue about what was happening and it didn't endear me to him one bit - he just seemed like a sheep following his father around waiting to be told what to do. Plus, he was supposed to be in love with Rhine, but everything he came out with was completely unbelievable to me - he just rubbed me the wrong way in every way possible.

What I did like about this read, and it's what kept me going, was the level of suspense and intensity involved. Everything that happened led up to Rhine's escape - it led to some really exciting and tense moments where I just had to find out what happened no matter what I felt about the characters involved. I also thought it was suitably creepy at times, especially Linden's father, which gave the read a great level of urgency.

Overall this read was pretty much meh for me. The more I think about it, the more I can't believe I finished it - harsh, but true. I don't think I'll be reading on in the series but as always, this was just my opinion and a ton of people really love this series so check it out.

My rating: 4/10

Lauren DeStefano:

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The Chemical Garden:

  1. Wither
  2. Fever
  3. Sever

Friday, 14 March 2014

Review: Crash by Lisa McMann


Title: Crash

Author: Lisa McMann

Series: Visions #1

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: January 2013

Format: eBook | 256 pages

Genre: YA | Paranormal 


Jules lives with her family above their restaurant, which means she smells like pizza most of the time and drives their double-meatball-shaped food truck to school. It’s not a recipe for popularity, but she can handle that.

What she can’t handle is the recurring vision that haunts her. Over and over, Jules sees a careening truck hit a building and explode...and nine body bags in the snow.

The vision is everywhere—on billboards, television screens, windows—and she’s the only one who sees it. And the more she sees it, the more she sees. The vision is giving her clues, and soon Jules knows what she has to do. Because now she can see the face in one of the body bags, and it’s someone she knows. Someone she has been in love with for as long as she can remember.



My thoughts:

For me, this was one of those perfectly average reads where there were a lot of good moments, but also a lot of moments that frustrated me.

It wasn't that I hated the read, I enjoyed it well enough. It's just that it wasn't one that I immediately want to reread or even put it on my bookshelf to be honest. It had just enough of the good stuff for me to want to finish it. I think if it was any longer than it is, I would have given up long before the end.


What I really loved about this book, and it's definitely what kept me going, was the characters. Jules was hilarious. Her quirkiness led to some really funny moments and her ability to blurt out what's on her mind at the most inopportune times made me burst out laughing. I also liked Sawyer and how much the both of them together made a perfect couple to balance each other out. Sawyer had the capacity to admit to his mistakes at the end and that always makes me relate to a character, if only because it's the right thing to do.


The frustrating aspects of this book aren't easy for me to put into words. It was like there wasn't enough to get me completely invested in the story. Whenever there were hints at the history between the two families involved in the story, it was mentioned but never taken anywhere. I thought the same about Jules' new 'vision' capabilities - there was never any mention of when they started or how they came to be. Whether or not it's fully explained in the next books, it was too important a detail for me to wait for - I can't help but feel it would have made the story that much more believable. I suppose it all came down to the details for me. I am a fan of authors who have very descriptive writing and detailed imaginations so this read fell short in that respect.


The plot itself was good. This read is very to the point and the author wastes no time getting the story going. I read it entirely in one sitting in just a couple of hours so it's nice for a fun afternoon read. 


My rating: 6/10


Lisa McMann:

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook



  1. Crash
  2. Bang
  3. Gasp

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Review: The Rancher's Second Chance by Victoria James


Title: The Rancher’s Second Chance
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Victoria James
Publisher: Entangled Indulgence
Language: English
Pages: 250

Widowed rancher Cole Forrester is all about running his family’s ranch and guarding his heart. The last thing he’s looking for is love, but when his little sister can’t make it home to handle some of her wedding details, he’s forced to entertain the event planner, Melanie Simms. Melanie is everything he’s not even remotely interested in: she’s high-society, complicated, and high maintenance. But when he’s stranded with her at his remote cabin in the Colorado mountains, he realises he’s seriously underestimated her. She’s hiding something about her past from him, but despite everything, he finds himself falling for the last woman he ever expected, and the first woman to make him want to give his heart and risk everything…




My thoughts:

When wedding planner Melanie Simms is forced to organise her best friend Corri's big day without her, she finds herself getting to know Corri's brother Cole. Melanie quickly goes from seeing Cole as a cold hearted cowboy to a man afraid to love again after his wife died. Things quickly get a little complicated when Melanie is forced to deal with her past that she had worked to keep hidden from everybody but herself. 

What I liked most about this read was Cole. I think a lot of readers will be the same after finishing this for obvious reasons, but I loved how open Cole's thoughts were in his narration. He lay out all of his problems in his head and sorted through them one by one and that made him incredibly relatable in my eyes. I adored knowing what he was thinking when he was thinking it.

The only problem I had with this book was how fast Cole came to the conclusion that he wanted to have a relationship with Mel. There was no process and I'm not a fan of the whole instalove kind of thing. While this wasn't the case of the two characters see each other and instantly fall head over heels, it was still a little too fast for my liking. 

The plot was pretty sweet. The two main characters each had their own problems to deal with and emotions to overcome. They were both being held back by something and they both needed encouragement from family and close friends to get past all the obstacles they were facing. I really liked how that happened towards the end. They both happened to be in the right environment to come to the realisation that they're being held back from living life to the fullest for no real reason.

Overall I thought this was a nice read. It was incredibly quick to get through and I finished it hoping for another book about a couple of the characters featured in the story. I really want to know what happens between them.

My rating: 4/5






I always knew I wanted to be a writer and in grade five, I penned my first story, bound it (with staples) and a cardboard cover and did all the illustrations myself (if you’ve ever seen my drawings you’ll know how horrible they must have been. I still draw stick figures). Luckily, this book will never see the light of day again.


In high school I fell in love with historical romance and then contemporary romance. After graduating University with an English Literature degree, I married my own hero, pursued a degree in Interior Design and then opened my own business.



After the birth of our first child, I knew it was time to fulfill the dream of writing romantic fiction. I’m a hopeless romantic who is living my dream, penning happily-ever-after’s for my characters in between managing kids and the family business. Writing on a laptop in the middle of the country in a rambling old Victorian house would be ideal, but I’m quite content living in suburbia with my husband, our two young children, and very bad cat.






Sunday, 9 March 2014

Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman


Title: Unwind 

Author: Neal Shusterman

Series: Unwind Dystology #1

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication date: June 2009

Format: Ebook | 352 pages

Genre: YA | Dystopian


Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

My thoughts:

Well that was certainly an intense read.

When I read the summary of this book I was immediately intrigued. It had the capacity to be such a great story in every way, from the creepy factor, to the fear and suspense behind characters almost being 'unwound'. While this read wasn't perfect, it did a pretty good job of reaching it's potential so I did enjoy it for the most part.

The main characters were exceptional. I loved Lev's depth, Connor's courage and Risa's intelligence. They made a pretty good team even when they weren't together which made up for a good chunk of the book. The story and the characters are what made this book for me.

However, there were a couple of things that frustrated me a little. There were quite a few characters that I had started to really enjoy getting to know but as the read went on, they were featured less and less. I also really didn't understand Roland as a character. I appreciate that he was a big part in the plot development, but he didn't fit right as a character in my opinion. I don't know if it's because I didn't like him, or the fact that I thought he didn't have enough of a backstory for me to fully understand where he was coming from. Aside from that, I really hated the ending. It seemed really rushed to me so I wasn't satisfied with it.


What I loved most though was how many times this read surprised me. What happened with Lev was completely unexpected. I was totally unprepared for that. Also, I was a little taken aback by how creepy this book got towards the end. And I mean that in the best way possible. I love me a creepy chapter or two.


Overall this was a good read. It had it's good moments even though I found it a little frustrating. 


My rating: 7/10


Neal Shusterman:

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook


Unwind Dystology:

  1. Unwind
  2. UnWholly
  3. UnSouled
  4. Undivided

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Review: Searching for Beautiful by Nyrae Dawn


Title: Searching for Beautiful

Author: Nyrae Dawn

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Publication date: March 4th 2014

Format: ebook | 304 pages

Genre: YA | Contemporary


Before, Brynn had a group of best friends, a loving boyfriend, a growing talent for pottery. She had a life. And after…she had none.

When Brynn lost the boyfriend who never loved her, the friends who feel she betrayed their trust, and the new life just beginning to grow inside her, she believes her future is as empty as her body. But then Christian, the boy next door, starts coming around. Playing his guitar and pushing her to create art once more. She meets some new friends at the local community centre, plus even gets her dad to look her in the eye again…sort of. 

But can Brynn open up her heart to truly find her life’s own beauty, when living for the after means letting go of the before?

My thoughts:

Brynn's life takes a turn for the worst when her mother dies of an aneurysm. While Brynn thinks she's found the perfect man to help her get back on her feet, she soon realises he's not what he seems when he questions whether Brynn's baby is his and asks her to get an abortion. After growing apart from her father, best friends and abandoning her love of pottery, Brynn has the hard task of finding a way to get back on the road to recovery. 

The character that made this book for me was Christian. His romantic interests aside, I thought he made a fantastic character. He was honest from the get go and it was almost enough to push Brynn away completely. I think part of my enjoying reading about him though was that I found him to be incredibly relatable. In terms of where he fit into the story, I thought he worked really well with Brynn's character in pushing her to make the first steps to becoming more like her old self. He made up for all of Brynn's weaknesses and in turn, Brynn had no problem telling Christian where he was going wrong. They made the perfect team.

While this story was pretty predictable, I still found myself reading it in no time on account of me just wanting to know what happened to all the characters. The characters really hold a story like this together so I was happily surprised to find out that this book had a nice set of characters that I started to really root for.

However, I really didn't get on with the ending. A book like this is all about the emotions the characters are going through and the journey to their recovery so I like it when the story takes its sweet time coming to the inevitable conclusion. This ending was way too rushed for me. All of the loose ends were tied up almost in bullet points it went so quickly. There was no lead up to the ending, it was just in my face and then the book was over. 

Even though I loved the main characters, including Brynn's father, I didn't like some of the others so much. The so called best friends of Brynn that abandoned her and her ex-boyfriend Ian who was going out with Brynn before her mum died and before Jason happened. I thought they were completely unnecessary which was evident by how much they actually played a part in the story. They only really appeared in the beginning of the book and right at the end. I know it's difficult to do, but I like all of the characters that make an appearance to give something to the story. They were the kind of characters that I wouldn't care if they were in the story or not. It would have made no difference to me.


Overall I thought this was a good read. It frustrated me a little but it didn't make me want to give up reading it. If you're a fan of contemporary Searching for Beautiful is a really quick read that you'll get through in no time. 


My rating: 6/10


Nyrae Dawn:

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