Monday, 29 August 2016

Sarah's Review of Unrivaled by Alyson Noel

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Unrivaled is the first book in Alyson Noel's newest series, Beautiful Idols. It follows the lives of a few people, who are just trying to make it in Hollywood. Everyone wants to be known for something.
The book centers around the hottest new starlet, Madison Brooks. Who wouldn't think twice of doing anything to get to the top.
Layla Harrison wants to be become a top writer behind a desk in New York. Aster Amirpour is getting tired of being told by directors that she's not the right kind of ethnic for the role. Tommy Phillips is dying to get his hands on a twelve string guitar and rocket to stardom, all while making his way back into his absent father's life.
Layla, Aster and Tommy find themselves, along with a few others, invited VIP into the glamorous and not so glamorous nightlife where they are dragged into a high stakes competition to target the famous Madison Brooks. Just as the competition starts to look promising, Madison Brooks disappears. And the others find themselves at the heart of the investigation.

This young adult novel carries such a sense of drama, suspense and intrigue. It takes a closer look into the world of the young Hollywood and the not so nice aspects of a star-studded town.

I love the way this book is set up. It actually begins with the disappearance of Madison Brooks and then backtracks about a month to where we meet the main characters and they begin what will eventually lead to her disappearance. In the beginning it was a little hard to keep track of all of the characters, but I quickly caught on and I found the story to just flow perfectly from one chapter to the next, even with the changing of viewpoints.

All of Noel's characters are strongly written with very distinct personalities. Each story is captivating and you are left wondering where the lies and deceit are. I found myself looking back after I finished the book to see if I missed any clues only to find that they were hidden for a reason. Quite the mystery.

The way Alyson Noel describes the situations and settings leaves your mind open to picture things accurately and completely, leaving nothing to chance unless it is supposed to be withheld. A good mystery always leave open-ended questions and clues throughout the storyline, delivering information only as it is needed and Alyson Noel handles this perfectly. I think this will series will be on the #1 list for years to come. Personally I can't wait to sink into the second novel in Beautiful Idols.

If you are a fan of Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars then you will instantly love this new series!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Sarah's Review of EVO by L.J. Sealey



Wow! Just Wow! I absolutely loved this book!

Evo is Book #2.5 in the Divine Hunter Series by L.J. Sealey.

In this installment of the Divine Hunter Series, we really get a look at the main character, Evan O'Reilly, better known as Evo. He was a man who was used to fighting demons and considered himself a bounty hunter and was utterly ruthless, always efficient. But then he had to battle his own demon.
Evo's friend, Alethia, is the Goddess of wind and shadows, and was silently watching over Evo, completely undetected. But when he begins to warrant a wrong kind of attention, she has no choice but to step in.
We quickly learn that Evo is being hunted by people just like him and a demon who wants nothing but revenge. So Alethia and Evo begin to run together. While on the run we see a lot of passion and tension and find that they are fighting something far worse than Evo's soul. Alethia is left fighting for him and comes to the heartbreaking truth that in order to save him she may have to lose him forever.

I love both of these characters in the Divine Hunter Series and am so glad that we got to really get a look into their lives with this book. Evo and Alethia's characters are so vulnerable and real. The love they have for each other is so strong and overpowers all other themes in the book. Just how we have come to realize in our own lives that love can help us overcome all obstacles, the love they have for one another keeps them going and neither Alethia nor Evo will give up until the very last breath. It shows us that we don't really choose who we fall in love with, but that love can be unconditional and test all barriers. If we are so lucky to find someone like that, then we should hold onto them.

One of the other major themes is good verses evil. Right from the start we know there are demons fighting to keep Evo from living his life and fighting to keep him from the love of his life. I found myself rooting against all evil for Evo to overpower his own demon.

L.J. Sealey has such a knack for writing. She has delivered yet another page turner. Her writing captures just the right amount of suspense and intrigue and her descriptions leave you so sure of everything you can picture it perfectly in your mind. She really knows how to pull you right into the story from start to finish.  Her story flows with such ease and switches from Evo's point of view to Alethia's so effortlessly.

Evo is so far my favourite book in her Divine Hunter series and I can't wait to read more! Thank you L. J. Sealey for writing such captivating characters and creating such an amazing world for us to escape to.

This book contains mature content, so the readership is for 17+. It is a paranormal romance after all.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Sarah's Review of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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Wow! I don't know why I hadn't read this book before now, but I sure am glad I did! I was hooked right from the start! Gillian Flynn has just the right amount of suspense and intrigue to keep you turning page after page, wondering if your instincts are right.

Gone Girl is a page turning masterpiece! It takes place in a small town in Missouri, North Carthage. We first meet Nick on the morning of his and his wife's five year wedding anniversary. Nick and Amy Dunne are preparing for their celebrations when Nick finds out that Amy has suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. From Nick's inner ramblings and daydreams we learn he isn't always the picture perfect husband. And then we are shown Amy's own musing from her diary where we learn how she is a perfectionistic alpha-girl. Nick quickly finds himself under intense pressure from the townspeople, Amy's parents, and the police, and with suspicion mounting against him, he finds himself drawn into his own set of lies and deceit. We find Nick behaving rather inappropriately for a husband who's wife is currently missing, which leads to him being the prime suspect. But even though he is acting weird and is definitely bitter at his wife, Amy, we are left wondering if he really could be a killer.

Flynn takes us on a ride through varying viewpoints, looking through the eyes of Amy's diary, and then back and forth through the eyes of Nick. I love having varying viewpoints on one story. And as you go on through the book you also find it broken into three parts. All with a drastic twist to the story. Gone Girl really makes you look at the minute details in our everyday lives and behaviours. It makes us question our own basic instincts and what drives different people to behave in such drastic ways.

There isn't a whole lot I can say about the book without giving away some of the major twists and turns it takes, but it definitely captures the intrigue and suspense. Gillian Flynn has so many layers twisted throughout her very believable characters. Things are written in such a precise way that it all unravels dramatically. There are so many clues that I'm left wondering, after reading it, what I could pick up on if I were to read it again.

I have never read a book like this before. Flynn has such an original and suspense thrilled storyline that is utterly flawless. Flynn explores such dark depths found in psychology and explores the inner makings of a sociopath. It makes you wonder if you can ever truly know somebody, inside and out.

If you haven't yet read this book or seen the movie, I'd suggest giving it a read first. I always find books more interesting than the movie and prefer to read before watching. As for me, now that I have read Gone Girl, I look forward to the movie and hope it lives up to the book.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Sarah's Review of The Crown by Kiera Cass



I just finished The Crown by Kiera Cass and once again I love it! The Crown is book #5 in The Selection Series and the writing was so exceptional. Not a single book let me down. Cass has such an exquisite way with words that simply draws you in and keeps you turning page after page.
In this last book, The Crown, we find Princess Eadlyn nearing the end of her very own Selection while also taking on so much more responsibility with being crowned Queen. Princess Eadlyn is realizing that even though initially she hated the idea of having a Selection and being forced to choose a partner, that maybe it won't be so bad after all. She is finding great friendships among the remaining boys and is realizing how wonderful having someone by her side could truly be. Having her whole life in the spotlight could be a little less invasive if she were not doing it alone. Even though Princess Eadlyn is still weary that she will find a true love like her parents, she is still hopeful. And as the Selection nears the end she finds herself falling more in love than she ever could have imagined but with these new feelings she must face one of her biggest and most challenging decisions she will ever have to make.

I am very happy with how Eadlyn has evolved and grown up over the short span of these novels. She is finally looking out of her people and the lives of those around her, instead of her own happiness. Her maturity at the end of the book is truly admirable considering where she was when she started the Selection. Sometimes being forced into something you are not quite sure you want can have very noteworthy opportunities and life changing experiences one could never have dreamed. Eadlyn's character development did happen quickly, but being in her situation sometimes you have to grow quickly in order to keep up and achieve what you are destined to do. The petty, egotistical, selfish Princess we met in The Heir has suddenly transformed to a selfless, caring, moral young woman who shows empathy, love, ambition and intelligence in her decision making. She is putting the lives of those around her first and is ruling the country, or trying to, like a real queen.

Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed were the blossoming friendships not only amongst the Princess and the boys, but amongst the boys themselves. I was glad to see Eadlyn finally opening up and allowing people to penetrate the walls she had built around herself. We also see how being open and honest is really the only way to be. I admire all of the qualities that the boys possess and how unique each of their relationships are with the Princess. The love that wins out in the end is somewhat predictable part way through but it did feel a little bit rushed. I wished we could have seen their interaction and relationship blossom a little bit slower and get more of a look into it before becoming an all encompassing love for each other. I am thrilled, however, that Princess Eadlyn truly got to follow her heart in the end even though it may have been an unconventional choice. I also admired the Princess's friendships with Neena. One can only hope and dream of having such a great friendship in our own lives. The utmost heartfelt respect and genuine affection they have for one another is inspiring.

The Crown is a perfect ending to a typical YA novel full of teen drama and romance. A very light read that will keep you engaged and it may even sweep you off your feet if you give it a chance.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Sarah's Review of The Heir by Kiera Cass

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I love it when I pick up a book and can get lost in their world, and that is exactly what happens with these books. Kiera Cass does an excellent job of allowing you to escape into the world she has created. I originally had read the first three books in the Selection series one after another and I wasn't sure if I would pick up the other two, but I am so glad that I did. I loved reading about America Singer and Prince Maxon, so it only made sense to continue on with their story of their daughter, Princess Eadlyn, entering into her own Selection. I love how we now get to see the process from the perspective of the royal family, instead of from the outside.

The Heir is book four in The Selection Series and it is where we first meet Eadlyn Schreave, the first born child of Prince Maxon and America Singer, now King and Queen of Illea. Eadlyn is actually a twin, but since she was the first of the two she is next in line for the throne.
Princess Eadlyn always loved the story of how her parents met, fell in love and then lived happily ever after, but she didn't think she would want anything like that. She was content being by herself and felt she was more powerful that way. Unfortunately, as she sees it, she has to enter into her own Selection because some things you just can't escape. Eadlyn is very skeptical about love in general and even more so about the prospect of finding love in such a random way, but things begin to happen to change her opinion. Her Selection begins with thirty-five eligible bachelors and after meeting a few of them and getting to know them better she starts to wonder if her own happily ever after could be possible.

Cass does another magnificent job of describing just the right amount of detail to place you right into the palace walls. You can easily picture where they live and walk the halls along with Princess Eadlyn throughout the whole book. Her characters come alive from the pages, all of them revealing just enough as you go through the Selection with the Princess. In the beginning I found Eadlyn's characteristics to be rather predictable and stereotypical, but then she digs deeper and we get to know the real Princess. She has so many levels and is easily relatable to no matter where you come from. Eadlyn's emotional side begins to break through and we see behind the mask that she wears so well. We see beneath all of the walls she has placed around her, right into the heart of her soul and we realize that she too is vulnerable. 

I love how her friendships with the boys develop and how necessary they all are. Eadlyn had grown up believing she was so powerful and was hesitant to let anyone in. But upon opening up and getting to know a select few, she is realizing just how important friendships and relationships are to her existence. We all need a few close people in our lives to lean on and having a best friend is so important. Just one special person with whom we can open up and be ourselves with makes a world of difference and Eadlyn is quickly discovering that.

I just love these books and I can't wait to see how Eadlyn's Selection ends! What a fun, quick read.