29 October 2009

Review: RUMOURS by Anna Godbersen *****

"December 1899, New York City.
Manhattan has bid farewell to its brightest star, the dazzling Miss Holland. Yet the rumours about her untimely demise continue. Meanwhile, her sister, the irrepressible Diana, has been seen in the company of not one, but three eligble bachelors. Might there be a fourth? In High Society reputation is everything. The Holland family simply can't afford to be the subject of such wicked whispers. Heaven forbid that they should fall so spectacularly from grace . . .
There is a very fine line between truth and love, lies and hate. And all is about to be gloriously revealed."

This is the second book in the brilliant Luxe series and you can read my review of the first one here. I've said before that I love the coveres for these books, but I really don't understand why the blurbs are so vague? For those of you that are unfamiliar with the series but curious about it, I can tell you that the story revolves around four main female characters in their teens (16-18): Elizabeth & Diana (sisters), Penelope (Liz's (ex) BFF) and Lina (Liz's (ex) maid). They live in New York in 1899 when apperances were everything so there's a lot of deception and betrayal and revenge going on in the background. There are two main love interests in the book, Henry and Will, who are shared among the four girls, which obviously causes a lot of drama. You'd be surprised to see what the girls are willing to do to get what they want ...

As you can see, I couldn't help but love the first book and that was pretty much the case with the sequel. The first one ended with a bang and I thought the beginning of the secone one was a bit slow, but eventually the story picked up and the ending was just mindblowing! Good thing I already have the next book waiting on my bookshelf, otherwise I'd go mad waiting for it since I can't wait to see what happens next!

As you can probably tell even from my review, these books are very action packed. There is just so much going on and the plot twists are enough to make your head spin. I may not protest violently if someone described the characters as slightly cartoon-like, but I suppose that's also partly why the story moves so fast. But whatever these books lack in character development, they make it all up with the beautiful setting and wonderful writing. I love the fact that these books are set in 1899 and as I mentioned before, I delight in reading about all the dresses and the lifestyle of the rich of those times. I can't say if the author's portrait of New York in 1899 is completely accurate, but I certainly find it believable and very enjoyable and really well written so kudos to Ms Godbersen.

I've stated in my review of the first book that I'm aware of the fact that these books are no literary masterpiece, but they make for wonderful escapsim and they are such fun to read, despite their minor flaws. I can't help but adore this series and I still strongly recommend it to everyone!

overall rating: 5/5
plot: 5/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 5/5

ps: You can also watch the trailer for this book below, although I can't really say I'm a big fan - it just doesn't do the books justice and they're so much better than portrayed in this clip. But feel free to see for yourself ...

27 October 2009

Waiting On Wednesday: WHAT ALICE FORGOT

"Remember the woman you used to be ...
Alice is twenty-nine. She is whimsical, optimistic and adores sleep, chocolate, her ramshackle new house and her wonderful husband Nick. What's more, she's looking forward to the birth of the 'Sultana' - her first baby.
But now Alice has slipped and hit her head in her step-aerobics class and everyone's telling her she's misplaced the last ten years of her life.
In fact, it would seem that Alice is actually thirty-nine and now she loves schedules, expensive lingerie, caffeine and manicures. She has three children and the honeymoon is well and truly over for her and Nick. In fact, he looks at her like she's his worst enemy. What's more, her beloved sister Elisabeth isn't speaking to her either. And who is this 'Gina'everyone is so carefully trying not to mention?
Alice isn't sure that she likes life ten years on. Every photo is another memory she doesn't have and nothing makes sense. Just how much can happen in a decade? Has she really lost her lovely husband for ever?"

Now here's a book that I've been looking forward to reading for ages! It was supposed to come out this past summer, then it was moved to January 2010 (*sigh*) and then again to June 2010 (*exasperated sigh*). To say that I was heartbroken about that would be a huge understatement since I'm really, really looking forward to this book - it sounds absolutely fantastic (smells a bit like Remember Me? by our beloved Sophie Kinsella) and I love the cover. I honestly can't wait to *finally* get my hands on this book someday, I'll probably devour it in a day, hehe!

25 October 2009

In My Mailbox #14

This meme is hosted by The Story Siren. Let's get down to business, shall we? Below are the books I've acquired in the past week:
So I finally got my copy of THE PROPHECY OF SISTERS by Michelle Zink - I've heard many great things about it and I can't wait to finally read it.

I also managed to get my hands on an ARC of WISH by Alexandra Bullen, yaaaay! Super excited about this one! I was planning to wait for the official release, but I sort of prefer the ARC cover versus the new official cover so I was determined to get the ARC and I succeeded, yay!

Then I also bought ANTICHRISTA and SULPHRIC ACID by Amélie Nothomb simply because The Character of Rain (read it ages ago) was amazing and I want to read more by her.

I bought A WAY THROUGH THE WOODS by Katharine McMahon because the story sounds very interesting. I currently own four books by this author and I haven't read a single one yet, but I'm fully planning to since they all sound really good!

The last book I got is GIVE ME TOMORROW by Elizabeth Lord, which I bought purely because it's about the suffragettes and I'm really fascinated by them.

Lastly, Kay Cassidy, the author of The Cinderella Society kindly sent me some signed The Cinderella Society swag (another picture here) aka some bookmarks and cards with the goooorgeous TCS cover and more info on her other projects (Living Your Five, The Great Scavenger Hunt, Teen Author Challenge etc.). She sent me this as a thank you for the questions I asked in her Ask Kay feature on her blog a while ago. Such lovely things - thanks so much, Kay! :)

ps: What the hell is going on with all the postal strikes in the UK?! So many of the books that were sent to me haven't arrived (even though it's been well over a month!!) and I suspect it's all due to the damn postal strikes, grrr! Honestly, things from the US arrive here in a week and the books from the UK (which is far closer) take over a month or don't even arrive?! Furious. :(

pps: Please excuse my absence from the blog, but I've been really very busy in the past weeks, working around the clock and only coming to sleep, then back to work. Thus I've hardly had any time or energy for reading, but things should hopefully change for the better soon so hopefully there'll be more updates in the near future. :)

21 October 2009

Waiting On Wednesday: SPOTLIGHT

SPOTLIGHT by Ilana Fox
"A fallen star. A runaway bride. They're about to be pitted against each other by a very powerful man. Madison Miller has everything - beautiful, talented and just a little bit naive; she's the small-town girl who swept to victory on America's hottest talent show to become the nation's sweetheart. She's also head-over-heels in love with the man who's masterminded her career - the head-spinningly powerful, lethally attractive Beau Silverman. But there's trouble in paradise... Jess has bolted from her approaching wedding and a dead-end job in London to chase dreams of being a fashion designer in New York. But she's finding life in the Big Apple tough, until she meets a man who makes her an offer she can't refuse. It means a taste of a life she's never had - glamorous parties, paparazzi, haute couture - but at what price? Sweeping from the hotspots of LA to the coolest bars of New York, SPOTLIGHT cuts a gloriously fun swathe through the world of celebrity and glamour, with a page-turning story at its heart."

Wowzers, talk about a gorgeous and an eye-catching cover! However, that's not the only reason why I'm looking forward to the book. I've actually read Ms Fox's first novel called The Making of Mia as soon as it was out in hardback and I really quite enjoyed it, so I have rather high hopes for this one too! It comes out in April 2010 and I really can't wait to get my hands on it!

19 October 2009

Review: THE GOOD LUCK GIRL by Kerry Reichs ****

"Maeve Connolly is tired of being labelled as irresponsible. Yes, she may spend unhealthy amounts of time on Facebook and watch marathon sessions of America's Next Top Model, but Maeve isn't a typical post-college slacker. Determined to change her life and make her own luck, Maeve impulsively decides on a grand adventure - driving cross country to LA. But en route, Maeve's car breaks down and she is stranded in Unknown, Arizona. It is here, alone and in the middle of nowhere, that Maeve finally faces up to the reality of her past. What Maeve has denied acknowledging, even to herself, is that she isn't running from bad luck, but from something much more complicated - something that made her feel as though the world would never turn again, and her heart would always remain closed. What begins as a hilarious and quirky coming-of-age tale soon deepens into a complex portrayal of survivorship and one woman's journey to a new beginning. Funny, irreverent, and moving in equal measure, The Good Luck Girl will leave you smiling through tears."

The novel is narrated by Maeve, who may seem quite irresponsible since it took her eight years to get through college and she's lost another job, but she's far from that. At first she may also seem rather silly, having agreed to drive across the country in her old car and accompanied only with her bird to meet a friend who she hasn't seen in years and live with her in LA. The readers may find themselves thinking, "What is this girl thinking?", but as the story goes on and more things are revealed, Maeve's journey becomes more understandable and you start rooting for her. She drives past all the names with crazy names until one day her car breaks down in the middle of the night in the middle of a town called Unknown. She learns it'll take a while for her car to be fixed so she finds a place to leave and even gets a job at the local bookstore. She finds herself in a wonderful relationship, but she's not sure if that's really where her heart is. Her life in Unknown is great, but she's also forced to come to terms with her past, from which she has been running away from and Maeve finally opens up about it. She really hasn't had it easy. But when her feelings spin out of control and her car is fixed, she decides to leave Unknown and meet her friend in LA. As it turns out, life in LA isn't as cracked up to be as it was portrayed by her delusional friend ...

I don't know why I felt the need to write a vague summary of the novel, but I did, heh. I can't say the plot's exactly riveting, but I did find it rather enjoyable. I suppose that was mostly due to the absolutely wonderful writing and the delightful characters, who really brought the story to life and you couldn't possibly wish for a set of more lovely yet quirky characters, from the narrator herself with her bird and her socks and braids, to her talking bird Oliver, her delusional LA friend who's convinced she'll pull Perez (McGay) Hilton, hula-hooping Tuesday, adorable writer Noah, the elderly residents of Ruby's "hotel" and all other inhabitans of Unknown. They all form a very witty and colourful bunch and were a delight to read about. On the other hand, the story also features some sad moments from Maeve's college years when she had to go through a lot and it changed her completely, but as heavy as those subjects may be, they are handled wonderfully. Really, it's all so beautifully written that all I can say is, "Hats off, Ms Reichs". The novel didn't exactly make me laugh or cry, but it did provoke sadness as well as many smiles and it definitely didn't leave me indifferent.

Lastly, I believe I also deserve The Stupidest Comment Ever award for my remark about the cover in my IMM post from a while ago, where I said I was slightly bothered by the hairy arms of the girl in the picture. I'm really not a fan of body hair myself and I couldn't understand why they couldn't just airbrush it out, buuuuuut I take my words back now. The arm hair plays a very important role in Maeve's story and I should be glad that it's on the cover instead of being all snarky about it. I never knew arm hair could be so important to someone and trust me, I felt like such an idiot when I was reading about Maeve's thoughts/memories on the subject, hehe.

In conclusion, let me just say that this is a wonderful novel about life's unexpected hardships, loss, starting over, love, family and friendship among other things and I strongly recommend it - it's bound to be one of the most wonderfully quirky books you'll ever read.

overall rating: 4/5
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 5/5

18 October 2009

In My Mailbox #13

This meme is hosted by The Story Siren and here are the books I've acquired in the past week:

~ Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby

~ Rude Awakening of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

~ Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

~ The Girl Next Door by Elizabeth Noble

~ The Book of Proper Names by Amélie Nothomb

~ Before the Storm (ARC) by Diane Chamberlain

Hope everyone had a great book week!

17 October 2009

The Frankfurt Book Fair

This was my second time at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which was also evident in the fact that I was somewhat less excited about it than I was last year, when I took a picture of pretty much everything I saw, lol. This year I was fully planning to take a lot of pictures as well, but on the first day my batteries ran out and I kept thinking, "Ooh, must take a pic of that tomorrow!" So then I bought new batteries, but the next day I was just too busy and tired and laden with catalogues to deal with the camera. I did have to take some pictures for work though, but at the same time I couldn't resist taking a few for personal use too, hehe.

So below are some more or less exciting pictures I took that might be interesting to others too:
- the cover for HOUSE RULES by Jodi Picoult (can't wait to read it)
- the cover for THE GUARDIAN OF THE GATE by Michelle Zink (Prophecy of Sisters, Book 2)
- the cover for CELEBRITY SHOPPER by Carmen Reid (won't read, but the cover is fantastic)
- the cover for REVENGE by Sharon Osbourne
- Twilight fans would probably love the Little, Brown stand, hehe
- Lucy in the Sky cafe
- I WAS JANE AUSTEN'S BEST FRIEND by Cora Harrison looks super cute (summary here)

The captions can be seen below, but for bigger pics just click the links above. As always, excuse the bad quality, I'm the worst "photographer" ever, lol.

I really wanted to take more pictures as the whole thing really is quite exciting, but sadly it just went by too quickly and now I'm left only with a few pictures, a ton of catalogues and a lot of work to do, hehe.

Has anyone else visited the FBF this year or sometime before?
Have you visited any other fairs?
Which one's your favourite?

14 October 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday: THE SECRET YEAR

Another book I'm looking forward to reading is THE SECRET YEAR by Jennifer R. Hubbard, which will be released in January 2010 and it sounds like a pretty intriguing read, plus the cover is so pretty, which is always a plus.

"Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one—not even Julia’s boyfriend— knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can’t mourn Julia openly, and he’s tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia’s journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he’s desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?"

ps: I'll be attending the Frankfurt Book Fair in the next couple of days so please excuse the complete absence from the blogosphere, but I promise to post some pictures as soon as I get back. :)

11 October 2009

Review: ELSEWHERE by Gabrielle Zevin ****

"Welcome to Elsewhere. It is usually warm with a breeze, the sun and the stars shine brightly, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful here. And you can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice.
It’s where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different from it. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth.
But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen (again). She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. She wants to fall in love. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well.
How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?"

The summary above sums the book up quite well and even from those few lines you can tell how original this story is. I loved it! I don't believe in the afterlife of any kind, but I think I'll pretend to believe in this version since it's just so comforting, hehe. To me, Elsewhere makes much more sense than Heaven or Hell or anything else and it would just be oh so lovely if things were actually like that. You die, but then you wake up on this ship called the SS Nile, which takes you to Elsewhere, where you get allocated and find your avocation and enjoying your life/death while getting younger every day until day one when you're ready to be sent back to Earth again. How delightful!

As I said, what I loved by far the most about this novel was the originality of the story, which is also cute and bittersweet. There aren't any huge twists and turns, but you just can't stop reading and even though the novel deals mostly with death, which is a supposedly tragic thing, the novel won't make you sad at all - instead, it's put a permanent smile on your face and leave you feeling all warm inside.

The characters were lovely and the writing was quite simple, but it worked. Those things however were secondary to me in this case, I mostly enjoyed reading about Elsewhere and I have to say I found the book slightly too short and the end too rushed. It was satisfactory and there was closure, but I wanted to read more about Liz's last years in Elsewhere.

I really enjoyed this book and I would love to rate it 5/5, but I can't quite ... Can't explain why, maybe because it left me wanting more? Either way, the book was fantastic and oh how I wish Elsewhere was real, hehe!

overall rating: 4/5
plot: 5/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 3/5

ps: I read & rated the book with the UK cover (next to the summary), but I personally prefer the US cover, pictured on the right. It's far more true to the story since Liz buys a very similar snowglobe during her first days in Elsewhere. The UK one is alright, but I really prefer the US cover in this case.

In My Mailbox #12

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, who is also "responsible" for two of the books in my mailbox this week ...

Hetty Feather by Jacqueline Wilson
Sing Me to Sleep (ARC) by Angela Morrison
Life of Glass (ARC) by Jillian Cantor
Sparkles by Louise Bagshawe

The wonderful Kristi kindly sent me her extra copies of the two ARCs and thus pretty much made my crazy week a bit better - thanks so much, Kristi!!!
I've bought the latest Jacqueline Wilson book because I have a soft spot for this author and I got it for the price of a paperback - who could resist? I've also decided to buy my first Louise Bagshawe book, I hope it's good stuff!

7 October 2009


[comes out in December 2009]
"Lucy Ellis moved to the Big Apple to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a fashion designer, but the native Midwesterner has just about had it with the city. A mousy, self-conscious girl trapped in a job at a designer sweatshop, Lucy has been mistreated, road-blocked, and otherwise insulted since her arrival. Overwhelmed by city life, Lucy is about to pack it all in and return home to Minnesota. Then she meets Wyatt.
After being publicly dissed by the glamour girl he'd been dating, man-about-town (and bored Ph.D. anthropologist) Wyatt Hayes wants to prove he's still at the top of his game and boasts to his best friend that he can transform any girl - even wallflower Lucy Ellis - into this year's "It" girl. If he can fool the upper crust of New York society into thinking an imposter like Lucy is the real thing, he can rip the chiffon veil off the whole Park Avenue social scene.
Lucy's an unlikely candidate to become a red-carpet butterfly, but she considers it her last resort and jumps at the opportunity to "become somebody" in New York. Wyatt begins to rigorously train Lucy in the style, sounds, and sensibilities of socialites born with entire sets of silver spoons in their mouths. Three months of preparation culminate in Lucy's appearance at the ultra-exclusive Fashion Forum Gala, where Lucy and Wyatt finally confront New York's aristocracy - and their feelings for each other.
Set against the glittering backdrop of contemporary Manhattan, The Overnight Socialite puts a 21st-century sheen on a timeless story of transformation and unlikely love."

I've read the author's debut BECAUSE SHE CAN a while ago and absolutely loved it - it was hilarious and just oh so good! I can't wait this one either, it sounds great! The hardback's a bit pricey though so I'm planning to wait till the paperback, but I don't think I'll be able to resist the temptation, hehe. Stay tuned to see what happens. ;)

ps: I recently took part in the Tuesday Ten feature hosted by Avril from Good Books & Wine - click here to check it out. :)
pps: Excuse the lack of updates, but sadly I'm just busy out of my mind these days and barely have time to read or I'm too tired. Things should hopefully improve soon so don't give up on me just yet. ;)

4 October 2009

Review: THE POPULARITY RULES by Abby McDonald *****

"Rule 1: All's fair in love, war and popularity ... Kat Elliot is no social butterfly: she's spent her life rebelling against phony schmoozing - and it's led her nowhere. Just as she's ready to give up her dreams and admit defeat, in steps Lauren Anderville. One-time allies against their school bullies, Lauren and Kat had been inseparable. Then one year later Lauren returned from summer camp - blonde, bubbly and suddenly popular, and Kat was left to face the world alone. Lauren finally wants to make amends by teaching Kat the secret to her success: "The Popularity Rules". A decades-old rulebook, its secrets transformed Lauren that fateful summer. And so, tempted by Lauren's promises of glitzy parties and the job she's always dreamed of, Kat reluctantly submits to a total makeover - only to find that life with the in-crowd might have something going for it after all. But while Lauren has sacrificed everything to get ahead, is Kat really ready to accept that popularity is the only prize that counts?"

Just from reading her book descriptions, I knew immediately that Abby McDonald was an author to watch. I've been waiting and longing to read her two books for months and even though the summaries sounded fantastic and right down my alley, I was still slightly worried that I was getting too excited and that I might not like the book after all. Goodness knows it's happened before and I got my hopes up for nothing, but luckily this was not the case with Ms McDonald - I thought Life Swap was a really great read, but I'm pleased to say that I found her adult debut (many thanks to Arrow Books for kindly sending me a copy!) even better!

As you can tell from the summary and the cover, this is a chick lit novel, which I generally enjoy, but the silly heroines tend to get on my nerves sometimes. So what I particularly appreciated about this novel is that it features feminist characters, which means that instead ditzy (albeit adorable) girls you get smart, independent, ambitious and strong female characters whose lifelong mission is not to find Mr Right in order to be able to exist; instead, they focus on themselves and pursue their own dreams. Feminism is something that I personally feel very strongly about and I was immensly pleased to find educated feminist references (both positive and negative) and features in both of Abby's novels. Sadly, I find that feminism is widely misunderstood and people (note that I said people, which means not only men, but also women!!) still use it as a derogatory term without even knowing what it actually stands for. I do wish feminism was featured more often in the novels so people would subtly learn what it's really all about and drop the bad stereotypes, they're really getting old. Oh, one can only wish.

Anyway, having spit that out, I can move on to the actual review and I think I'll start with the things I loved about the book (a minor one being the tubgate reference from Life Swap, that was fun, hehe).

Firstly, I really enjoyed The Popularity Rules themselves at the beginning of each chapter. Their tone was completely different (far more bitter and ruthless and blunt) to the narration and yet the two worked really well together and everything was connected - each rule applied to some situations described in the story so I have to say the novel was well structrued. As trivial and shallow as they may be, I think they actually provide some excellent advice, and while I wouldn't be surprised if some/many people looked down on them, I think smart people will take the advice and make the best of it. Obviously, they're not to be taken too seriously, but The Rules really do help if you want to achieve something in life. If there's one thing I've learned in the past years is that "being yourself" is naive and stupid and it'll get you nowhere. It may sound bitter, but wahey. The Rules take this to the next stage and offer some advice on how to become who you want to be and achieve what you want. According to the book, it takes a lot of determination and manipulation and effort and time, but some people would think the prize is worth it. But is it really? Having recently experienced all the pros and cons of the so-called popularity, that is something that Kat has to decide on for herself.

Secondly, I really liked the characters, despite the fact that most of the side ones were quite one dimensional (Gabi, Oscar, Kat's mother, Whitney, Jessica etc.), but I didn't mind too much since I thought they all added to the story regardless. I found Lauren slightly underdeveloped as well, but I suppose that's due to the fact that she hardly ever drops her mask and is very reserved, which is clearly described in the novel. My favourite character was obviously Kat, the independent girl who's never afraid to give everyone a piece of her mind. However, being herself and flaunting it and only gotten Kat into big trouble and cost her her beloved job. Kat is a very unlikely candiadate to succumb to The Popularity Rules, but seeing how she struggled after being fired and having everything offered to her on a plate, I could understand why she decided to do it, albeit reluctantly. It is also clear to see why she eventually got very caught up in it and why she still made the final decision. Yes, Kat had her annoying moments, but on the whole I really quite warmed up to her.

There are many things I can say about this novel (obviously, since this review is slowly turning into an essay, lol), but sadly I can't say that it's very plot driven. I admit I found it a bit slow paced at times, but luckily the fun yet smart dialogue made up for it and made the novel very enjoyable. I liked how the dialogue was very real and modern and how both pop references and educated talk was all mixed together.

All in all, I have to say I *really* enjoyed this novel. I thought it was an outstanding adult debut, especially since the author is only 24 (i.e. my age - gee, thanks, Abby; way to make other supposedly successful 24-year-olds feel like complete losers and idiots. :p) I thought the book was well written and very easy to read with great characters and fantastic dialogue and some useful advice. Take it or leave it, it's up to you, but either way I strongly recommend this book if you're in the mood for some amazing escapism! But don't just take my word for it, feel free to read Chloe's review too. :) If you haven't already, check out my previous post about the book with a video (or two) and a link to the official book site, woo.

overall rating: 5/5
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 5/5

In My Mailbox #11

IMM is hosted by The Story Siren. I'm pleased to report that I've had a good book week & here's what I got:

Heh, excuse the low quality mobile phone picture, but my camera was unavailable and I was in a hurry. Click the covers below to read more about the books.

2 October 2009

Review: LIFE SWAP by Abby McDonald

"Take an administrative snafu, a bad break-up, and what shall heretofore be known as “The Hot-Tub Incident”, and you’ve got two thoroughly unprepared sophomores on a semester abroad. For American party girl Tasha, an escape to tweedy Oxford may be a chance to ditch her recent fame as a tabloid temptress, but wading Uggs-deep in feminist theory is not her idea of a break. Meanwhile, the British half of the exchange, studious control-freak Emily, nurses an aching heart amid the bikinis and beer pong of U. C. Santa Barbara. Soon desperation has the girls texting each other tips – on fitting in, finding love and figuring out who they really are. With an anthropologist’s eye for cultural detail and a true ear for teen-speak, exciting new novelist Abigail McDonald crafts a very funny, fast-paced, poignant look at survival, sisterhood, and the surprising ways we discover our true selves."
I've been looking forward to reading this book for months and I was so happy when I finally received my copy for review (many thanks to Walker Books for sending it!) I started reading it immediately and I'm pleased to say the book lived up to my expectations!

As you can tell from the blurb, it's a story about two girls who are running away from either a scandal or a break up and are trying to rediscover themselves so they decide to take part in an exchange that requires them to change swap their lives for a few months. The girls couldn't be more different (learn more about them at the official book site) so in the process of switching lives with each other they also learn a lot about themselves.

The story itself is simple and maybe a bit predictable, but still great fun to read. Everything is so vividly described that I could just picture all the action and I think the story would make a great film, which I'd definitely watch! As for the book, I found it well written (especially since the author is so young (24/my age!!) and this is her debut) and very easy to read. The voices of the two main characters were nicely distinguished and I could easily tell which one of them was telling the story without checking at the beginning of the chapter. However, I did find the characters slightly stereotypical, but luckily that didn't affect my enjoyment of the story, I still got sucked right in and nearly finished it in one sitting. Personally, I could really relate to Emily - there were a few things about her that read quite close to home, hehe.

One thing though: back at home, Tasha was involved in this "scandal" when she was caught in a hot tub topless and making out with another girl's boyfriend and the story made it into all the tabloids etc. Anyway, I couldn't really comprehend why the characters in the second half of the book were making such a big deal out of it?! Sure, it's not something to be proud of, but surely it's not bad enough to break up friendships? Personally, I thought the UK characters very really overreacting, especially in this day and age when nudity is hardly a big deal. Yes, she was caught drunk and topless and making out with a taken guy, but she's a teenager and it happened months ago - I understand the parents were majorly upset and it affected her US friendships, but I couldn't really see why such a silly thing would undermine the whole project she was working on? I thought Will's reaction was particularly out of character and I admit I was sort of disappointed with him when he seemed like such a nice guy.

On the whole, I really enjoyed this novel, just like I expected to! It's a quick and simple read, but very enjoyable - pure escapism! The book was originally published in the US as Sophmore Switch and it even has its own website, which you can check out here. The cover is below on the left and next to it is the original UK cover, which was later changed to the one you can see above.

Which of the three do you prefer?
Personally, I can't really decide between the UK ones - I think I like the original (pink & grey) one better since it's more elegant, but the new one stands out far more (even though I'm not too sure about the pink & orange combination) and that's always a plus. At least none of the irritates me and I think it's great when the cover matches the story, and in this case it sure does in any case so I can't complain!

overall rating: 4/5
plot: 4/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 4/5

New: POOR LITTLE BITCH GIRL by Jackie Collins

There are several fantastic books being published today (e.g. Her Fearful Symmetry and The Book of Tomorrow, to name just a couple) and I'm also very excited for Poor Little Bitch Girl by Jackie Collins! Why? Simply because I love everything about the book: the cover, the title and the summary, which reads:
"First there's Denver Jones, the hotshot attorney working in L.A. and Carolyn Henderson - personal assistant to a powerful and very married Senator in Washington with whom she is having an affair. Then there's Annabelle Maestro - daughter of two movie stars - who has carved out a career for herself in New York as the madame of choice for discerning famous men. The three twenty-something women used to go to high school together in Beverly Hills and Denver and Carolyn have always kept in touch, but Annabelle is out on her own with her cocaine addicted boyfriend Frankie.
Bobby is Frankie's best friend - Bobby Santangelo Stanislopolous, that is, Kennedy-esque son of Lucky Santangelo and deceased Greek shipping billionaire Dimitri Stanislopolous. Now he owns Mood, the hottest club in New York, but back in the day he went to high school with Denver, Carolyn and Annabelle, and hung out with all three of them. Which means that Bobby knows everyone's secrets - and he has some of his own, too."
I must admit I've never read anything by Ms Collins before, but I'm sure tempted to! I'd love to start with this one, but it's a bit pricey - the question is, will I manage to wait for the paperback to read this one? I'm very tempted to just buy it, even though I know I shouldn't and yet I should ... Oooh, the suspense! Stay tuned to see how the matter will be resolved. ;) However, do let me know if you read it, I wonder if it's really as good as it sounds. :

ps: The pictures below were posted on the Simon & Schuster twitter yesterday - what a cute taxi, lol!