Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Love Notes from Vinegar House by Karen Tayleur

Title: Love Notes From Vinegar House
Author: Karen Tayleur

Release Date: 1st June 2012

My Rating: 3/5

Blurb:
“There are some things you should know about me if we are going to be friends. Like I don’t believe in ghosts.”

Freya Jackson Kramer has done some stupid things before, but this is the first time they’ve been splashed across Facebook. When she escapes to Vinegar House for the holidays, she thinks she’s leaving her troubles behind. But Freya’s troubles are just beginning.

How will she deal with her manipulative cousin, Rumer? How can she avoid the ex-love of her life, Luke Hart? And what secrets lie in the locked attic? This is a book for readers who believe in ghosts, for readers who disbelieve, and for those who are still sitting on the fence.

In A Nutshell:
The kind of book you should pick up if you like ghost stories, solving mysteries, and dreaming about the boy-next-door. Suitable for the younger YA market.

My Review:
Love Notes from Vinegar House is the kind of book you should pick up if you like ghost stories and solving mysteries. Also, if you like dreaming about the boy-next-door, although in this case, he lives across the road.

Under the watchful eyes of Mrs Skelton and Grandma Vinegar, and while avoiding her insufferable cousin Rumer and her long time crush Luke, Freya attempts to uncover the secrets of the attic at Vinegar House, which has been out of bounds for as long as she can remember. As Freya spends her school holidays by the sea, she encounters mysterious flashes of light, the suspicious plumbing of an old house, deceptive love notes, a possible murder mystery, a midnight burglary and a potential ghost.

For the most part, Freya was an endearing character. There were a few moments however, where I just wanted to slap some sense into her, although this seems to be a common occurrence for me when the character is in their early teenage years. I suppose in hindsight someone probably wanted to do the same thing to me when I was fourteen!

In regards to the ‘stupid’ thing Freya did that was ‘splashed across Facebook’, it wasn’t really addressed that much. It was more a passing thought to explain why Freya had no problem with staying at Vinegar House. I think it served more as a warning that gossip is always blown way out of proportion and you should always seek the truth from the people involved rather than trust gossip and comments on Facebook that can blow things way out of proportion. I’m showing my age here but I am so glad Facebook wasn’t around until after I left high school!

While I enjoyed the story, I can’t help but wish there had been a little more to it. The novel was filled up with a lot of back story and descriptions of the place and the goings on at Vinegar House and its occupants including cranky Mrs Skelton, depressed Mr Chilvers and flippant Rumer, but not a huge amount of excitement until the last third of the book as the story picked up and we really got to the heart of the story. The end was satisfying and I liked the way the love notes and the mysteries all fitted together at the end.

Ages 12+

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John

Title: Thou Shalt Not Road Trip
Author: Antony John

Release Date: 12th April 2012

My Rating: 3/5

Blurb:
When sixteen-year-old Luke's book, Hallelujah, becomes a national bestseller, his publishing house sends him on a cross-country book tour with his older brother, Matt, as chauffeur. But when irresponsible Matt offers to drive Luke's ex–soul mate, Fran, across the country too, things get a little crazy. On the trip, Luke must loosen up, discover what it truly means to have faith, and do what it takes to get the girl he loves.

Told with Antony John's signature wit and authenticity, and featuring smart, singular characters who jump off the page and into your heart, this story is a spiritual awakening and rockin' road trip in one.

In A Nutshell:
A compelling story about a boy who thinks he has his life all together but who is just, if not more, as screwed up as most teenagers.

My Review:
Christian fiction is not exactly my thing to say the least but, I loved Five Flavours of Dumb so I was still eager to give Antony John’s latest offering a try, plus I love road trips. While the religious aspect did get on my nerves to a degree, it wasn’t so over the top that I wanted to stop reading. I found it to be a compelling story about a boy who thinks he has his life all together but who is just, if not more, as screwed up as most teenagers.

Sixteen-year-old Luke has written a religious self-help book, aimed at children and teenagers, after he took part in a writing task at his youth group. Somehow the book became a major success and Luke is sent on a promotional book tour by his publicist, with his older brother Matt as chaperone. Luke blindly goes along, trusting that his older brother will get him where he needs to be on time. What Luke doesn’t realise is that Matt has other plans and he semi-hijacks the tour by inviting his girlfriend, Alexis, along, as well as her sister Fran, who happens to be Luke’s ex-best friend and ex-crush. As Matt and Alexis take the group on random detours along Route 66, Luke is faced with his own conscience concerning the content of his book and also the constant company of Fran. Neither Fran or Luke are particularly happy to be stuck on a road trip together but it provides Luke with an unexpected, and somewhat unwanted, opportunity to see Fran up close for the first time since she went through a mysterious transformation from good Christian school girl to an antisocial, tattooed teenager with purple hair. As Luke discovers who Fran has become, or who she still is, he learns that the greatest betrayals are often by those who you are closest to.

Society’s most common mistake is judging someone for what they look like, rather than who they are inside. There is always more than meets the eye and you should never take what someone says as gospel. Investigate it for yourself and then make your own decision.

I found the character of Luke rather annoying. He makes lots of mistakes because he is rather naïve about life and it takes him a while to figure out what is going on and to stand up for himself. The character of Fran was my favourite. She is so well written, the most real, and was easy to relate to. While she may have appeared to be the most screwed up of all the characters, to me, she was actually the most switched on of them all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Taste by Kate Evangelista

Title: Taste
Author: Kate Evangelista

Release Date: 1st May 2012

My Rating: 5/5

Blurb:
At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.

In A Nutshell:
Taste is a reworking of the zombie mythology in a medieval setting complete with swords, corsets, a deadly virus and a government conspiracy. Throw in some smouldering-hot boys, sexual tension, a mad scientist and a hidden city, and you have one unputdownable novel.

My Review:
Taste is dark, hot and sexy, and I’m not just talking about the guys. If you’ve read the samplers then you know it is an enticing story that pulls you into the world of those who yearn to taste flesh. Don’t worry, this isn’t another vampire or werewolf story, it’s a zombie, sorry Zhamvy, novel.

I’m warning you now, there is quite a bit of talk about flesh eating so if that’s something you don’t want to hear about, then this probably isn’t the book for you. I wouldn’t classify it as horror, but it’s not Disney either.

There is, however, a secret city hidden from human eyes, and a reworking of the traditional zombie mythology in a medieval setting complete with swords, corsets, a deadly virus and a government conspiracy. There is also a love triangle but it doesn’t leave you hating either of the guys and the book finishes with a satisfying outcome concerning them both.

I love the Zhamvy world that Kate Evangelista has created. It is beautifully imagined and made me want to be part of the story. I love that our main character Phoenix is gutsy and stubborn, but smart, and it really made me want to be best friends with her. I love the mad-scientist, the ex-princess who likes to fight in lace and ribbons, and god did I love the sexual tension between Phoenix and Demitri. Yikes I blushed a lot.

I discovered Kate almost two years ago and have been following her progress as she found an agent, got herself a publishing deal with Crescent Moon Press, and finally released her debut novel Taste. I am so happy for her and can’t wait to read her future books.

You can buy Taste at The Book Depository or on Amazon in a paperback edition or as an eBook.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Title: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio

Release Date: 14th February 2012

My Rating: 5/5

Blurb:
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

In A Nutshell: A heart-warming story that everyone should read!

My Review:
Nothing I could possibly say would do Wonder justice. It is such a beautifully written, heartbreaking, but heart-warming, story.

Wonder follows ten-year-old August Pullman as he experiences his first year at school, having been home-schooled until now. What makes his story worth reading is that Auggie has severe facial deformities, and for a world that continues to judge people on their appearance, this new experience will not be an easy one. Told from multiple perspectives including August’s sister Via, his new friends Jack and Summer, Via’s boyfriend Justin, and August himself, we are able to see how other people view August and how he has impacted and influenced their lives, and vice-versa.

Wonder is a story about bullying, acceptance, respect, friendship, sacrifices, self-esteem, love and family. It is a story of enormous courage, as one little boy grows up over the course of a year, and touches so many people’s lives in the process. From a social outcast to someone who brings his whole school together, over the course of a year, August Pullman is a boy who used to hide, but now stands front and centre.

This is a novel everyone should read; children (9+), teenager and adult, and you will particularly enjoy it if you liked North of Beautiful, Skin Deep, Five Flavours of Dumb and/or Beautiful Monster.

********


I know I’m not a normal ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. And I feel ordinary, inside. But I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.

If I found a magic lamp and I could have one wish, I would wish that I had a normal face that no one ever noticed at all. I would wish that I could walk down the street without people seeing me and then doing that look-away thing. Here’s what I think: the only reason I’m not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way.

But I’m kind of used to how I look now. I know how to pretend I don’t see the faces people make. -August, Ordinary

********


Does August see how other people see him, or has he gotten so good at pretending not to see that it doesn’t bother him? Or does it bother him? When he looks in the mirror, does he see the Auggie Mum and Dad see, or does he see the Auggie everyone else sees? Or is there another August he sees, someone in his dreams behind the misshapen head and face?

I wish I could ask him this stuff. I wish he would tell me how he feels.
-Via, August Through the Peephole

********
It’s like some people you see sometimes, and you can’t imagine what it would be like to be that person, whether it’s somebody in a wheelchair or somebody who can’t talk. Only I know that I am that person to other people, maybe to every single person in that whole auditorium.

To me, though, I’m just me. An ordinary kid.
-August, Floating


Second Opinions
So Much to Tell You
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...