Friday, February 22, 2013

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.


Beautiful Creatures is a rich, atmospheric read. It is beautifully written and full of literary references. It contains a sometimes sweet, sometimes desperate romance. However, it did not knock me out of my socks (which are woollen and warm and were made by my grandma, thank you very much.)

While I definitely appreciated the beautiful descriptions and the almost lyrical writing, the attention to detail and the vivid painting of the setting, this also slowed the story down, making it hard for the plot to develop any momentum or suspense. Furthermore, the plot twists and action seemed poorly distributed. There is a heap of them in the last fifty pages, but hardly any in the preceding five-hundred.

What I liked about this book were, for one, the characters. They all have distinct personalities and I especially appreciated the well-developed secondary characters. What is more, almost all of them had their secrets, even the "good" ones, and therefore this book could mostly avoid the stereotypical good and evil clichés, painting its characters in shades of grey rather than only in black and white. I especially appreciated the authors' attention to the Southern dialects which gave all of the characters an authentic feel whenever they spoke.

A further thing I liked was the romance. I've heard many times that it is a textbook case of insta-love, and yes, while Ethan falls for Lena fairly quickly (okay, immediately) I thought the reasons behind this were well explained. Nothing ever changes in Gatlin, and Ethan feels like he doesn't fit in and he doesn't want to fit in, so obviously, when a beautiful, different girl arrives in town, he would immediately want to grasp this opportunity for change, for something different. I loved to see how they grew to depend on each other, how they cling to each other with a certain degree of desperation because they can be completely open with each other in a town full of secrets. They can be themselves around each other, which is what they both needed. But their romance is also sweet, as it tends to be with fifteen/sixteen-year-old protagonists. I thought their connection extended well beyond only physical attraction, and I loved to read about their companionship.

As far as plot goes, there are definitely a lot of secrets to be uncovered, but while a lot of hints are dropped, barely anything big ever happens throughout the book. As I stated in the beginning, I thought it lacked suspense and momentum in certain places, especially the beginning was slow. The book took its time setting up the atmosphere, which is nice, but simply left me bored sometimes.

All in all, a beautifully written, different YA novel with its own lore and lyrical beauty and a unique way of portraying magic.

My rating: ☆☆☆(☆)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Harriet Manners knows a lot of things. She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn't quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she's spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves. 

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did. 

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?


Yeah, the goodreads summary sounds rather cheesy, but don't let that deter you: THIS BOOK IS AWESOME. Seriously, I don't think I have ever laughed as much. I spent the better part of this sitting on my couch and giggling or outright lol-ing.

What makes this book so great? The writing. It's witty, full of funny facts that you don't really need to know but that are just so weird that you want to memorise them, and the story-line pulls you in and doesn't let you go. I couldn't stop reading, needing to know how Harriet navigates her awkward self through the fashion world, whether she would get a happy ending with Nick, whether she would fall down on the runway, whether she would re-unite with her best friend whose dream she hijacked...

And that leads me to the characters. Harriet Manners is so relatable. At least if you have ever in your life felt out of place, like you needed to change in order to fit in... I was the tall, awkward, quiet girl at school who wore unfashionable glasses, liked to read and didn't like parties, so yeah, I could definitely see myself in Harriet. (Minus her awesome knowledge of random facts and her plan and list making tendencies.) Then there are Harriet's parents, who have silly little (and bigger) fights about little things. Her father basically stayed a child himself and is eccentric and funny (except if he's your father, of course). And there's Annabel, Harriet's step-mother, who might seem like the bad guy at the first glance, but who is, in fact, very level-headed and smart and badass. There's Wilbur, Harriet's very much over the top agent, Nat, her loyal best friend, and Toby, her super-geeky stalker. I loved the whole bunch of them, they're all such distinct, funny, strong characters.

And then there's Nick. This book features the best "awkward girl meets handsome boy" scene I've ever read. Because it takes place under a table, (which becomes a bit of a running gag.) The scenes between Nick and Harriet probably made me laugh the hardest because Harriet copes with nerves by spewing forth random facts like wikipedia gone mad. (Well, not really, but I just fancied using that phrasing.) Their romance is sweet and adorable and there's just not enough scenes with the two of them in it. I NEED MORE.

And if that weren't enough, this book also comes with a great message. Be yourself and love yourself, because you're awesome just the way you are. It's just such a heartwarming story.

I'm telling you, the first thing you need to do on the 28th of February is go to a bookstore and pick up a copy of Geek Girl. It's awesome and made my nerdy heart beat faster with excitement at finally having found a kindred spirit (albeit in book form.)

My rating: AWESOMENESS. er. ☆☆☆☆☆

Monday, February 11, 2013

Spark (Elemental 2) by Brigid Kemmerer

Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally. Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can't. Gabriel has always had his brothers to rely on, especially his twin, Nick. But when an arsonist starts wreaking havoc on their town, all the signs point to Gabriel. Only he's not doing it. And no one seems to believe him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Because Layne has a few secrets of her own...


Aaaah loved this book! I flew through it in less than two days. Like, one and a half days. And that is really fast for me. This series is my ultimate delicious guilty pleasure, a bit like eating Nutella out of the jar...

Okay, enough gushing. This book basically has all the good parts of the first one in the series but none of the parts that I didn't really like in Storm. For one, no love triangle. Now I love a good love triangle, but I never really cared for Hunter in Storm. (Although I have to say I warmed up to Hunter a bit because of his bromance with Gabriel in Spark.)

This book focuses very much on the relationship between Gabriel and Layne, and it's just so sweet; good-looking tough temperamental guy falling for shy nerdy girl... My favourite kind of couple. There was considerably more kissing in this book than the last one, and what is more, kissing between the right people. I loved how protective Gabriel is, I loved how Layne, even though she's shy, is a strong character and I loved how Layne and Gabriel slowly start opening up to each other.

Of course, the Merrick brothers are still as awesome as ever. They have their conflicts, but in the end they're family and they work it out. I loved Michael's story-line in this book, and also the conflict between Gabriel and Nick, and how they miss each other... yeah, bromance <3

Even though the story focuses more on the romantic development and on the conflict and relationships both in Gabriel and Layne's family, there is also the plot-line with the arsonist and the mystery of who is starting those fires. Yeah, this plot-line had to take the backseat, but I didn't really mind.

The story is told, as in the last book, from both Gabriel and Layne's point of view, and we got to see a lot from the guy's perspective this time. I loved Gabriel's struggles with his powers and also with his school work, how he slowly came to accept help and gain control. It was nice to have insight into his inner conflicts.

Overall, this book is more focused on the characters and the romance than the first one in the series, but it is by no means boring and plot-less. It's fast-paced and full of deliciously hot guys. Awesome.

My rating: 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Storm (Elemental 1) by Brigid Kemmerer

Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys... all the ones she doesn't want. Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They're powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life's at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who's hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming.


Am I the only one who is a bit sad that the paranormal romance trend is slowly dying? Because if it's well done, this is my favourite genre ever. I really devoured this book and when I wasn't reading it, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Luckily, the sequel is already out!

So what made this such an irresistible read? Easy. The Merrick brothers. I loved every one of them, I loved their family dynamic, I loved how they fight amongst each other, and I loved it even more when there were moments of tenderness between them. (There weren't many, but some.) Also, have I mentioned that they're all dark-haired and, the way I imagined them, way hotter than on the cover?

This book is told from the point of view of Becca Chandler and Chris Merrick. Becca was an okay protagonist, although a bit too trusting sometimes. I loved the scenes from Chris' point of view, I wish there had been more of them. It was definitely refreshing to see what's going on in the guy's head since with paranormal romance, you usually only get the girl's point of view. One thing that bugged me a little was the third person narration. The writing style, to me, felt like it would have been much better suited to first person. However, with the switching of perspective, I understand why Kemmerer chose third person.

I loved the elemental powers. It was a unique new paranormal aspect unlike anything I've read before. I also loved the beginning, how you're in the middle of the action from the first page on. I wasn't a big fan of Hunter's, but oh well, what is a paranormal romance without a love triangle? I wish that there would have been some more scenes with Becca and Chris and a little less with Becca and Hunter, and that is basically the only criticism I have.

Storm is a compelling, fast-paced read with irresistible male protagonists that you'll fall in love with. A must for all paranormal lovers out there.

My rating: 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Anna And The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming,beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss


So I've been putting off writing this review because this book was just so... unexpected. Special. Amazing. I'm not the biggest contemporary fan, but with Anna and the French Kiss, I was hooked from the first page. The love interest is irresistible, Anna is a fun, relatable protagonist, and their story is just so sweet and beautiful and all the good adjectives.

I really enjoyed the story being set in Paris. I could really relate to Anna's hesitation of going out in a strange city where she doesn't even know the language. Even though Paris might seem a cliché setting for a romance novel, it wasn't cheesy or just in Paris for the sake of being set in Paris, but the descriptions seemed alive and served as the perfect backdrop for Anna and St. Clair's unfolding romance.

I loved all of the characters and I really enjoyed that it wasn't only focused on the two main characters, but had a varied cast of people who were all dealing with their own problems. While I often feel that contemporary books lack plot, I never got bored with this one. Only towards the end did I feel like the story was a tiny bit dragged out (my mind was just like GET TOGETHER ALREADY), but otherwise, the obstacles Anna and St. Clair had to overcome seemed believable and not just random misunderstandings as it so often happens in bad romantic comedies.

Perkins' writing is so much fun and just so... real that I was always entertained and could picture everything happening right in front of me. Oh, and have I mentioned that St. Clair is irresistible?

I feel like this review just doesn't do this book justice, and I can't really put into words what is so great about it. It just gave me all the right feelings and it was so beautiful that it was almost painful to close the book and come to the realisation that these people aren't actually real. But then, as Dumbledore once said, the things happening inside our heads are real, too. And that is the thought I comforted myself with as I put this book down and immediately ordered the companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door.

My rating: