Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Review - Effortless (Thoughtless, Book 2), S.C Stephens

A lot can happen in a year. You grow, you change, you learn from your mistakes. And Kiera had made a lot of mistakes to learn from. But she had learned, and she was determined to never cause a man pain again, especially the amazing man who currently held her heart. But life offers new challenges for every relationship, and when Kiera’s love is put to the ultimate test, will it come out the other side unscathed?

Love is easy… trust is hard

So, I wont lie, I feel somewhat hypocritical reading this book given that Thoughtless, the first book in this series, didn't exactly get a sparkling review from me. I hated Kiera to the point where I considered putting the book down, the storyline kinda bored me, and I wasn't blown away with the writing.

The only saving grace, however, was Kellan Kyle, because I'm a total sucker for a boy in a band with a troubled past and possessive tendencies. *sigh*.

He's basically the only reason I picked up Effortless, and while I can't say it was a complete 180 and it's now my favourite book ever, it was definitely a lot more enjoyable than Thoughtless and I didn't consider putting this one down. Huzzah!

So Effortless basically revolves around Kiera and Kellan maintaining their relationship while Kellan goes on tour, with a few little obstacles in between. The story line alone had me enjoying this book much more, simply because I could sympathise with Kiera who faces a lot of worries about Kellan and cheating on tour, groupies, when he's coming home etc etc.

I grew to like Kiera in Effortless and found her a more believable character. She faces some self confidence issues which I think most girls can relate to, and throw in a super hot boyfriend who spends a good deal of time in the company of other attractive females and you've got yourself a believable character.

The sub-characters were also a great deal more interesting, as I found that they offered little to the narrative in Thoughtless. Kiera's sister, Anna, has her own story line going on and more is made of characters like Jenny and Kate, as well as the other D-Bags.

Kellan, as before, was an enjoyable character and his relationship with Kiera became less about the sex and more about the actual bond, which was a nice change up from Thoughtless which predominantly focused on how sexually attractive they found eachother.

Having said that, I still don't have anything amazing to say about Effortless, there was nothing about it that screaming THIS IS AWESOME. I've read a lot of other books involving the whole rock/music/band thing that I enjoyed much more and I've definitely read other new adult/contemporary books that Effortless couldn't hold a torch to. *cue hordes of angry fan-girls*

For that reason I'm going to give Effortless a 3 out of 5, as I did Thoughtless. In my first review I said I wouldn't recommend it, and I think I stand by that, though maybe not as passionately. I won't tell you to put it down, but I'm not shoving it under your nose.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Review - Thoughtless (Thoughtless, Book 1), S.C. Stephens

For almost two years now, Kiera's boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she's ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart.

Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source—a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he's purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes...and none of them will ever be the same.

Firstly, I didn't realise when I first picked up this book how freaking long it was! 530 pages (paperback), is a pretty epic read by any New Adult/Contemporary standards.

Half way through, I was definitely waning. If you've seen any of my GoodReads updates you'll see just how irritated I was becoming with the length of this and how drawn out I feel the storyline was in places. However, I'm glad I didnt review this straight away, because the more I think about it, the more I actually quite liked the elongation of the plot points.

You can tell from the blurb that Kiera gets it on with Kellan, so I'm not giving anything away there, and what I found with Thoughtless is that the length of the book almost brings a sense of realism to the whole situation. Normally, I'm complaining that stories are too short, relationships aren't developed enough, and there's too much wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am going on. But with Thoughtless I really felt the bond between Kiera and Kellan growing.

I liked Kellan as a character and I think Stephens did a good job of portraying his torment about hurting his friend, Denny, by sleeping with Kiera. He fits the typical hot rocker/bad boy mould, but I'm not complaining. Kiera, on the other hand, annoyed the hell out of me. I cannot stand prudish characters and this is exactly what she was. Doesn't swear, doesn't talk about sex, only slept with one guy, blushes a lot - argh I can't stand it. I don't know about you but I don't know a single girl that is THAT prudish.
She annoyed me because not only can I never see someone with Kellan's characteristics looking in her direction, but she spent paaaaaages and paaaaages whining about her problems. For someone so prudish and morally upstanding she sure did a great job of screwing over her long term boyfriend... then whining about it. It bugged me. A lot. For that reason, I actually considered putting the book down part way through, but I stuck it out for Kellans sake.

The story naturally revolved around the whole affair and wasn't too deep. Sub characters were okay, the other D-Bags had some personality, but not loads. The writing was okay, nothing spectacular. All in all it was a pretty average book and I've given it a 3 out of 5. I probably wouldn't recommend it, but I am currently reading Effortless (Thoughtless, Book 2) so what do I know?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Review - Backstage Pass (Sinners on Tour, Book 1), Olivia Cunning

Five stunning guys, one hot woman, and a feverish romance... For him, life is all music and no play...

When Brian Sinclair, lead songwriter and guitarist of the hottest metal band on the scene, loses his creative spark, it will take nights of downright sinful passion to release his pent-up genius...

She's the one to call the tune... When sexy psychologist Myrna Evans goes on tour with the Sinners, every boy in the band tries to seduce her. But Brian is the only one she wants to get her hands on...

Then the two lovers' wildly shocking behavior sparks the whole band to new heights of glory... and sin...

Okay so I wasn't sure what I was expecting from this book. I mean, I knew it was erotica but I didn't realise it was EROTICA. I'm talking no holds barred, threesomes, sex in public places, back-door action (and not in the typical way) kind of erotica.

I'm not going to talk too much about it because it may offend some of your lovely YA ears, but it wasn't my kind of thing. Now, I actually like a bit of naughty, but this wasn't for me. I picked it up because I'd read some reviews that said there was a pretty decent story line in Backstage Pass, but if there was, I missed it completely. So that was a big let down.

I also had no idea how to pronounce the protagonists name, which irritated me quite a lot. Petty, I know, but I cant connect with someone if I don't know their name! Myrna (I pronounced it Mer-Nah) was also fixated on the fact she was older than Brian, and highlighted it on a regular basis, which only made her come across as whiny and a bit self-obsessed. Brian was just as bad, being the ultimately clingy boyfriend and not in a Travis Maddox, passionate, you-are-mine, kind of way. Just in a, Jesus-get-over-it, kind of way.

I always love the rock band theme so that's what kept me going. Cunning clearly knows a bit about music so I did enjoy some of the language she used and the general flow of the book was okay. But the sex scenes were quite repetitive and the actual sex wasn't my cup of tea and didn't give me the warm and fuzzies.

Some of the other characters were mildly entertaining and I've heard that the other books in the series are based around them. However, they're not that entertaining that I think I'll give the rest a go.

I've given Backstage Pass a 3 out of 5, but to be honest, I probably wouldnt recommend it. I think there are much better rock band based erotica's out there.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Review - Lonely Souls (Witch Avenue Series, Book 1), Karice Bolton

It’s two weeks before Triss turns 18, and her world is about to change into the most magical one imaginable as she readies herself to enter The Witch Avenue Order... that is until her mother’s disappearance. Instead of celebrating her transformation, she finds herself spreading rose petals into her mother’s empty grave.

When Logan, her best friend from junior high, moves back to town for college, he vows to help her find the answers she so desperately seeks surrounding her mother’s disappearance. As they begin uncovering clues, it becomes apparent that the life of white magic they both grew up loving is not what the majority practices, and their lives are in danger.

With a haunting feeling that her mother may still be alive, she begins to hear a call to the wilderness. Triss realizes that in order to find the answers she needs, she must learn the ways of her ancestors and become the hunter, not the hunted before it’s too late, and she becomes part of the lonely souls.

This was the first book in a very, very long time that I considered giving up on. Had I not felt insanely guilty by doing so, I would have given up after about 25%.

I'm not really sure what I was expecting with Lonely Souls, but we've all established that I'm a huge cover whore so I was more than willing to give it a go. Given the name, it was a fair assumption that this would be a witch based YA book, which I was fine with, but I finished it feeling like it never really began.

The main reason I was set to give up on it was the writing (ignoring storyline and characters for now). The writing was a huge turn off for me. Not only was the language repetitive and not particularly advanced, I got the strong impression that Bolton has no idea how an 18 year old would talk. I cant count the amount of 'who talks like that?' moments I came across and I found it extremely difficult to associate with the characters in any way as a result of this. The dialogue was boring and wooden, giving away absolutely nothing about the characters, and the actual structure of it had me re-reading quite a lot of paragraphs so I could actually establish who was talking.

So, I wasnt getting off to a great start. Then I started evaluating the characters. Triss, for me, was a terrible protagonist. She had very little personality, to the point where I'm not entirely sure how to review her. There was just nothing about her. She was relatively whiny and her obsession with Logan completely detracted from the fact that her mother was missing, perhaps dead. She definitely played up to the helpless heroin stereotype, which is my ultimate pet peeve.

Logan wasn't any better. You could tell Bolton was trying to portray him as the good old YA bad-boy but it just didn't work at all. He wasn't smooth enough, there wasn't enough description of him to make me swoon, and his dialogue wasn't particularly witty or flirtatious. He returned Triss's obsession but it irritated me more with him as he was supposedly madly in love with her for the years they've been apart, blah blah blah. Yeah alright, what 18 year do you know that turns girls down for a chick he hasn't seen in 2 years?

The storyline was... well, I'm not quite sure what the storyline was because to me it just seemed like it was about Triss and Logan fighting their annoying teenage feelings of lust for each other. The foundations for a decent plot were all there but nothing was elaborated on enough to really grab you. I got to the end of the book wondering what the hell the last 290 pages were about and when the real action was going to kick in.

There were moments in the storyline that felt reminiscent of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series and once I found myself making that comparison, Lonely Souls was done for.

I think I've established from reading Lonely Souls that I don't like witch novels. Something about witches just doesn't do it for me, and once Logan whipped out a wand, I was out. Harry Potter was pushing it for me, and Clare only just got away with the Steele, but I'm sorry, wands are not cool.

When I come across books like this it's usually the action that helps me see them through, but in Lonely Souls there wasn't any (this is why wands suck, who can kick ass with a 5 inch stick?). There was one almost-fight-scene towards the end of the novel but it lasted all of 5 seconds and didn't have me white knuckled as other well written action scenes have me.

All in all, I just felt Lonely Souls was a weak book that seemed to have lost its way when it comes to plot and general purpose. I wont be reading any more of the series and I wont be recommending it. Because I hate giving 1 star I'm going to give it a 2 out of 5.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Review - Bad Rep, A. Meredith Walters

"Who gives a damn about their reputation? Oh, that would be me! Especially since mine had gone straight to hell in the span of thirty minutes".

Maysie Ardin is soaking up the summer before her junior year of college, shopping, hanging by the pool and shopping some more. But when her black belt in spending lands her in trouble with her parents, she is forced to take a second job at a local bar to dig herself out of a deep financial pit.

She thought she’d be miserable. But then Maysie didn’t count on Jordan Levitt, the hot, pierced and tattooed, drum playing bartender who also happens to be very interested in her. And the feelings are totally mutual.

It had the makings of the perfect romantic set up. Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Boy has girlfriend? Okay, maybe not.
But attraction is a hard thing to ignore and soon Jordan and Maysie find themselves in the middle of a gossip induced firestorm. Maysie has to learn whether she can set aside her fear of public disapproval in order to be with the one she wants. Or will she let the opinions of others dictate her life and her heart?


I should probably start by telling you that Jessica Sorensen (The Secret of Ella & Micha, The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden) has officially ruined the NA/Contemporary genre for me. I can't help but compare everything to her writing, which is just flawless. So when it comes to reading books like Bad Rep, they're really going up against Sorensen in an all out, no holds barred battle for NA perfection.

Unfortunately, Bad Rep started off on the back foot for me anyway, with the whole sorority/fraternity concept. Being a Brit and not having this kind of culture in our Universities, it's hard for me to relate to, and as someone that's never really striven for that kind of nicey nicey social acceptance, I find it all a little melodramatic. And that's how I found Bad Rep.

I didn't enjoy the story line because of this, and I therefore found Maysie as a main character a little whiny and somewhat pathetic. I very much sided with her room mate, Riley, in that it was totally lame to be thinking her whole life was crashing around her because she'd lost the respect of a sorority (for something she brought on herself, may I add).

There was little in the story line that kept me really entertained, and the major plot points weren't particularly dramatic. I was waiting for someone to get hit by a bus or for the school to burn down (anything!), thinking that the entire book couldn't possibly revolve around one half-hearted, teenage affair at a college, but alas, it did.

Another 'unfortunately' for Bad Rep is that it touched on my big big biggest pet peeve when it comes to this genre (and YA for that matter): 24 hour love. And in this case, it was literally, 24 hours. In 24 hours Jordan had become so completely infatuated with Maysie that he decided to screw over his girlfriend of 3 years (who he wasn't happy with anyway, just leave her for Christ sake?!), risk his position in his fraternity, which is apparently so important, and try and get Mays in the sack. It's just everything I dislike about establishing relationships.

Don't get me wrong, I liked Jordan as a character, and it was nice to read a NA book that didn't revolve around the guy being the indecisive one, but it wasn't strong enough for me to really sympathise with any of their actions.

I'm not going to write a long review on this because to be completely honest, I dont have that much to say. I couldn't relate to the story line and the plot points were weak, the writing was okay, nothing particularly superb, and the sex scenes were alright, the characters weren't irritating by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasnt an exciting book.
Theres definitely books I'd recommend above this one in this genre, so I'm giving it a 2.5 out of 5 (3 stars on GoodReads)

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Review - Beautiful Disaster, Jamie McGuire


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 wants—and needs—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.

Beautiful Disaster is a re-read for me, but as I didn't review it the first time round, I'll do it now. This was hands down one of my favourite books of 2012. If not THE favourite book of 2012. There is so much about it I love that I kind of feel the need to do it as a list rather than a proper review, so that's what I'm gonna do.

The characters
If you've read any of my previous reviews you've probably picked up on a couple of my pet peeves when it comes to main characters; a major one of which is indecisiveness You know what I mean, the whole 'will they/wont they' kind of thing. The 'I love him, but we can't be together. Oh wait, yes we can. Oh no we really can't'. That whole thing just pisses me off. Come on guys, lets just get together than throw in a nice juicy obstacle rather than beating around the bush.

Well, anyway. Beautiful Disaster actually played up to that pet peeve for me, but its probably the only book I've read where I just didn't care. Everything else about it was that damn good. The main reason it didn't bother me so much was because McGuire actually justified that attitude. Abby and Travis have so many issues between them that even I was changing my mind about their relationship.

Both characters are so well thought out, with intricate and sympathy-inducing histories and their actions revolved around these perfectly. I felt like I really understood why decisions were being made, or people were being pushed away, that I can just let that peeve go.

On top of that, both characters were likable. I freaking loved Travis, so much so that he has officially been crowned my book boyfriend of 2012. Not only is he a total bad-ass, but he's very funny, cute in the right places, angry when its justified, and hot as hell to boot. His extreme personality is perfectly balanced by Abby's more serene one and his devotion to her is seriously heartbreaking.

Abby is more my kind of character, although she has her occasional face plant moments, she generally didn't piss me off and made most of the decisions I think I would have done in that situation. She approaches Travis with caution and makes the smart move of not buying a one way ticket to Crazy-in-Love-Land like most lead females do.

The story line
I loved everything about it. Although it starts off as your typical college romance, there's a more sinister side to it with Travis's fighting and Abby's past that turn it from something mundane, into something seriously exciting and completely original.

When I first read it through and I got to the whole Mick/Benny/Vegas story line I was completely taken aback, well and truly convinced the college would be the main setting for the book. Not only did it change it up when it risked getting dull, but it added a more adult side to Beautiful Disaster that most books in the YA or NA genre still lack.

The action/entertainment
There was bucket loads. Seriously, like I just said, the whole Vegas thing was an exciting turn of events, as was the event at the school (trying not to spoil), and adding Travis's fights in there, too, it was packed with fantastic action and entertainment.

I never felt like the book was winding down and the sheer amount of different little drama's that were going on kept me completely and utterly hooked.

The writing
I have a bit of a thing for the way a book is actually written, not just stuff like grammar and punctuation but the actual vocabulary used and how appropriate it is. And ding ding ding, you guessed it, Beautiful Disaster checked out on all fronts. The language was beautiful and reflected the genre, each character had a different style of speak, the writing flowed really well, chapters didn't drag, plot points didn't drag. and everything was just flawless.

Seriously, 5 out of 5 across the board. The only thing I wanted when I finished this book was to maybe get more of an insight into Travis's past and to see things through his eyes, AND WHADDYA KNOW, McGuires' next book, Walking Disaster, is exactly that. Cannot freaking wait.

It's out on April 2nd and I'll definitely be picking it up.