Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Come Back to Me, Mila Gray


Pages: 352
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release Date: 19th June 2014
Edition: e-proof, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: [as Sarah Alderson] Hunting Lila, Losing Lila, Fated, Severed, Shadowed, The Sound, Out of Control

Come back to me. That was the very last thing I said to him.
Always. The very last thing he said to me.

Home on leave in sunny California, Marine and local lothario Kit Ryan finds himself dangerously drawn to his best friend’s sister, Jessa – the one girl he can’t have.

But Kit’s not about to let a few obstacles stand in his way and soon Jessa’s falling for his irresistible charms.

What starts out as a summer romance of secret hook-ups and magical first times quickly develops into a passionate love affair that turns both their worlds upside down.

When summer’s over and it’s time for Kit to redeploy, neither Kit nor Jessa are ready to say goodbye. Jessa’s finally following her dreams and Kit’s discovered there’s someone he’d sacrifice everything for.

Jessa’s prepared to wait for Kit no matter what. But when something more than distance and time rips them apart they’re forced to decide whether what they have is really worth fighting for.

A breathtaking, scorchingly hot story about love, friendship, family and finding your way back from the edge of heartbreak.

Historically I haven’t got along with NA. I find it cliché, too focused on sex, not enough character development and sloppy writing. It was solely because I knew that Mila Gray is actually Sarah Alderson that made me want to pick up Come Back to Me. I really am glad I did.

The novel opens with an emotional punch: we find out that at the end of the novel Jessa will lose someone. Either Riley, her brother, or Kit, her boyfriend, who are both marines, has been killed in action. And just before the name is announced, Gray throws us into flashback to the beginning of the summer and the arrival of the boys on leave.

Jessa has had a crush on Kit for years, but she’s always been his best friend’s little sister. Or so she thinks. Kit is Hot, with a capital ‘H’, and he has sizzling chemistry with Jessa and I was cheering on their sneaking around. I love stories of forbidden love so damn much. For Jessa and Kit, the obstacles are Riley (overprotective and knowledge of Kit’s tendency to be a player) and Jessa’s scary, scary dad (suffering from PTSD, a Colonel and hates Kit). It actually took me a long time to get to like Riley. He’s judgemental and possessive, he feels a little similar to their dad at points. I have to admit that I had a few errs with Kit too – he’s pretty bloody pushy! I mean, it always worked out in the best way for Jessa, but it did make me cringe a little.

Aside from the scorching romance, the secrets and the sun-drenched California summer, Come Back to Me also tackles some sensitive issues: fighting in wars, death and PTSD. Unfortunately, war is a very topical subject at the moment so it made an impact. Though being in the marines in an American role, one I actually know very little about, the reactions of Jessa’s dad, Kit’s dad, and Kit and Riley themselves seems familiar, and worrying. These four men having experienced unspeakable things across a wide arc of time and in different places all over the world and they all suffer. It’s a sobering thought.  

Come Back to Me is an emotional, sexy and addictive summer read. I have high hopes for the rest of Mila Gray’s books.

Thanks to Sarah for the review copy.

Sophie

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Series-athon: Lux by Jennifer L Armentrout


It’s not often that I start reading a series when it’s complete or very nearly there, but when I do, oh is it lovely. Marathoning a series is a sheer delight for a reader and I really want to do more of it. And when I do it, I’m going to review the whole lot together, but review each book as I read it so it can be read as separate reviews for though in a different place in the series. Enjoy!

Series: Lux
Author: Jennifer L Armentrout
Books in Series: Obsidian, Onyx, Opal, Origin, Opposition


Spoilers are possible for the later books in the series. Read with care!

What’s it all about?
The summer before her senior year, Katy has just moved from Florida to a tiny town in West Virginia. She hates it. Then she finds out that the boy next door is hot, insufferably so. Daemon Black is also arrogant, rude and annoying, but his sister is awesome. Being an alien, though, maybe he has an excuse.

After Katy is attacked by a member of Daemon’s race’s deadliest enemies and he uses his powers to protect her, Katy is shining like a beacon, advertising their whereabouts. These enemies want Daemon’s powers and they’ll squash anyone in their way. Katy must stick with Daemon for her safety, but she might kill him before the Arum get the chance to kill her...

The Verdict

I have to admit that I really wasn’t bothered about reading this until I heard that the main character was a book blogger. I’m not a huge fan of aliens in fiction and the synopsis didn’t jump out at me, even though I have heard that it was addictive and Daemon was irresistible. After five books, I’m not really sure if I like this series or not. Lux is littered with cringe-worthy clichés, sexist remarks and characters, a plot that sometimes goes so far beyond ridiculous that I laughed out loud, and yet I still read all five books. And I read each one in no more than two sittings. Jennifer L Armentrout’s writing is easy to read and get involved in and no brain power is required, and some days, that’s all I want from a book. The following mini-reviews were each written after I finished each book, and I think it’s clear how I veered between love and hate...

Obsidian

Katy being a book blogger was something that might be mentioned once or twice in the beginning and then forgotten about, but it was actually alluded to fairly consistently during the novel. Armentrout obviously deals with a lot of bloggers and reads book bloggers frequently as Katy experienced frustration at no internet access and a broken laptop that prevented her from putting up her Waiting on Wednesday, how she got all dizzy and excited in a book haul video and the joy of coming home to a mailbox (see how I went all American there?) full of book packages and putting together an IMM.

I have to admit that there were some elements of Obsidian that did scream Twilight at me. There’s a the whole ‘us and them’ divide between Daemon and his family and the rest of the humans at their school, much like the Cullens and their separate table in the school cafeteria. They are admired and envied from afar, but the rest of the humans barely even cross the minds of the Blacks; they are completely insignificant to them. There were also a lot of parallels between the characters of Daemon and Edward. The overprotective tendencies that bordered on controlling; the aggressive protection he gave Katy and his sister, Dee; how physically present and imposing he is; pushing away other guys. It’s all there. Although I noticed these things, they kinda made me smirk more than anything and I got over them pretty quickly.

I thoroughly enjoyed Obsidian. I read it in one sitting, reading until 2:15am when I immediately bought the next book and I didn’t stop thinking about it the day after.

Onyx

The second novel about Katy’s adventure with the Lux, specifically the irresistible Daemon, was just as addictive as the first. Thing seriously intensified between them two in Onyx ­– very hot. My favourite element of their relationship is going to sound a little odd, but it’s the fact that even though they admitted their feelings for each other, common sense and self-preservation still kept them apart. That is so ridiculously rare in YA and it was refreshing, and made more some scenes so ripe with sexual tension I thought my Kindle might set fire.

Aside from the complicated relationship between Daemon and Katy, Onyx also delved deeper in the world of the Lux and their experience on Earth. There is a much stronger, meatier plot in this instalment of the series. I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read it, but the danger Katy posed by knowing the Black’s secret increased exponentially and the after effects of the explosive ending of Obsidian had a much bigger effect on all of their lives that they could ever have expected. It made for a brilliant novel full of twists, turns and revelations that completely changed the direction of the characters and made for some betrayals and horrible turns of events.

I’m officially in love with the Lux series.

Opal
I’m sad to say that I think my love may have peaked with Onyx because I just didn’t feel the same way about Opal. At first I was really pleased that Katy and Daemon’s personality clashes and quirks didn’t drop away the second they got together; I liked that they still bickered and argued and clashed. By the end, however, I was thoroughly annoyed by them. It was always the same thing they argued about! Over and over again throughout all three books. We get it: you don’t want the other to get hurt and no one likes Blake.

Speaking of Blake, I’m very open to strangling him. In the notes I made while reading this book I wrote down that I’d like to kill him myself. Aside from the properly horrible thing like betrayal and manipulation and creeping and such that he was doing, I just found him irritating. There was a lot of page time dedicated to him as well, page time I think could have been more focused on Dee and Katy’s ailing friendship. It was a huge component of the first book and still significant in the second book, and although it took a battering with the ending of Onyx, I felt it was a little left dangling with neither character really reacting to the loss of their best friend.

All of those criticisms aside, I’m still enjoying this series and Opal really picked up towards the end with some interesting developments in the mythology and a stinker of a cliffhanger.

Origin
I need to say this: why change the cover?! It’s awful and it doesn’t fit at all. It makes me rather glad they’re on my Kindle and not on my bookcase!

Jennifer L Amrnetrout took Origin in several different directions from the rest of the Lux series. As well as hearing from Katy, we got a glimpse into the twisted, worrying and usually very dirty mind of Daemon Black. It was great to hear his voice. The way he felt about Katy was palpable and barely a sentence went by without him mentioning her, speaking to or about her or thinking about her. It should have been annoying, but it wasn’t. It was really refreshing to also have a new setting and a new, bigger problem too. It was getting a little stale.

Although I really enjoyed those elements of the novel, but I also had some pretty major problems. There was one event in particular, a big, dramatic, crazy event that I really hated. You’ll know exactly what I mean if you’ve read it! I thought it was clichéd and unnecessary; it added nothing to the story at all. It made me rather annoyed, actually. It wasn’t until the shock revelation, the excellently over-the-top fight scene and the major cliffhanger that brought Origin back for me. This series is a bit like a yo-yo in my affections!

Opposition
I was so looking forward to the final instalment of this series. I read the first four books in just over a week, in a haze of needing something distraction and brainless to read and I was interested to see how I would react to Opposition in a different frame of mind. I actually just confused myself further.

Katy is a heroine that I’ve had trouble fully connecting with at times, but she definitely came into her own in Opposition. She was less likely to bow to Daemon’s demands and blindly follow his lead; she could fight and take charge and had thoughts and ideas of her own. Katy demonstrated some serious badassery.

My major issue with Opposition, other than the completely unbelievable plots and twists and additions to the alien mythology that I just couldn’t get fully invested in, was the way Armentrout approached Katy and Daemon’s relationship. They are a lot more physical in this instalment of the series, and I’m not a prude by any means, but some of the language and imagery used in the intimate scenes made me cringe. It was just unnecessary and there was often very little reason for it.

Even through the threats to the gang’s lives and the possible end of the world, I felt like all eyes were on the romance. Usually that doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but it did niggle me. It was cheesy and clichéd, especially in the epilogue and few events in the novel. And yet I kept reading. I pre-ordered Opposition and I read it as soon as I had finished the book I was reading when it was released. I devoured it in two big, greedy gulps and nearly forgot I had to go back to work after lunch.

Is this escapism at its finest? An excuse to switch off the brain and disappear into something completely ridiculous and all-consuming?

If you’ve read this series, leave a comment and let me know what you think – I’d love to know if I’m the only one with such conflicting feelings about the Lux series!

Sophie




  

Monday, 18 August 2014

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, David Levithan and Rachel Cohn


Pages: 189
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Release Date: 3rd July 2014
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Boy Meets Boy, The Realm of Possibility, Are We There Yet?, Wide Awake, Naomi & Eli’s No-Kiss List (with Rachel Cohn), Love is the Higher Law, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), The Lover’s Dictionary, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (with Rachel Cohn), Invisibility (with Andrea Cremer), Every Day, How They Met and Other Stories, Two Boys Kissing

Nick & Norah are both suffering from broken hearts.

When Nick sees the girl who dumped him walk in with a new guy, he asks the strange girl next to him to be his girlfriend for the next five minutes.

Norah would do anything to avoid conversation with the not-friend girl who dumped Nick, and get over the Evil Ex whom Norah never quite broke up with. And os she agrees.

What follows is a sexy, funny, roller coaster of a story of a first date over one very long night in New York.

I’m a huge fan of David Levithan’s and I adore the movie adaptation of Nick & Norah so this should have been a sure-fire winner for me, but there was something a little lacking.

We’re thrown straight into a world of music and life with a slew of punk bands playing in a club. The music and the characters’ love of music bleeds through every page. Leviathan and Cohn capture the exhilaration is being in the rush of people jumping and screaming along to a band together. How alive it makes you feel, how free, how fierce. How music can open your eyes, allow you to close them contentedly at night, start something with someone. And that’s exactly what happens with Nick and Norah. I want a night like that so bad it hurts.

Even with the vibrancy of the music, the connection between Nick and Norah, how realistic of teenage angst it is, there was something a little lacking for me. The first half of the novel was very slow, and this is a short book. It was very much character and thought driven and there was some serious sexy spark, and yet I still had very little desire to pick it back up. As always, David Levithan’s writing was stunning and it blended with Rachel Cohn’s seamlessly.

Though I didn’t fall in love with Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, I still have faith that David Levithan will blow me away for many books to come.

Thanks to Electric Monkey for the review copy.

Sophie

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Letterbox Love #56


Letterbox Love all of the lovely, lovely books I’ve gotten in the post, bought and everything else. Summaries are taken from the cover, or Amazon/NetGalley/Goodreads in the case of e-books, unless otherwise stated. Hosted by Narratively Speaking.

I’m off on holiday today so although I have posts scheduled for the week, I’m not really around. There also won’t be a Letterbox Love next Sunday, but hopefully there’ll be a bumper edition then! Have a great week, lovelies.

For review:

365 Days of Wonder, RJ Palacio (hardback)

August Pullman stole the hearts of over one million readers in the bestselling, award-winning Wonder.

365 Days of Wonder is a beautiful companion to the novel: a collection of quotes and wise words, one for every day of the year.

It includes funny, insightful, inspiring thoughts from Wonder fans, from authors and personalities – Roald Dahl to John Lennon, Anne Frank to Lewis Carroll, JRR Tolkien to Popeye – and from the novel itself. It’s a book to be shared, treasured and enjoyed again and again.

This book looks absolutely beautiful. I can’t wait to dip in and out of this when I need some brightening up. Thanks Bodley Head!

Magisterium: The Iron Trial, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (e-proof)

From the imaginations of bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a heart-stopping plunge into the magical unknown.

Think you know magic?
Think again.
The Magisterium awaits...

Most people would do anything to get into the Magisterium and pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt.

Call has been told his whole life that he should never trust a magician. And so he tries his best to do his worst – but fails at failing.

Now he must enter the Magisterium.

It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister. And Call realises it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just beginning. Call’s biggest test is still to come...

YES! Thanks to NetGalley and RHCP for this!

Sophie