30 November 2009

Review: TIME OF MY LIFE by Allison Winn Scotch ***

"Jillian Westfield has a life straight out of the women’s magazines she obsessively reads. She’s got the modern-print rugs of Metropolitan Home, the elegant meals from Gourmet, and the clutter-free closets out of Real Simple. With her investment-banker husband behind the wheel and her cherubic eighteen-month-old in the backseat, hers could be the family in the magazines’ Range Rover ads.
Yet somehow all of the how-to magazine stories in the world can’t seem to fix her faltering marriage or stop her from asking "What if?"
Then one morning Jillian wakes up seven years in the past. She’s back in her Manhattan apartment. She’s back in her fast-paced job. And she’s still with Jackson, the ex-boyfriend, and star of her what-if fantasies.
Armed with twenty-twenty hindsight, she’s free to choose all over again. She can reconnect to the mother who abandoned her, she can use ad campaigns from her future to wow her clients, and she can fix the fights that doomed her relationship with Jackson.
Or can she?"
I generally quite enjoy these time travelling stories - everyone wonders "what if" every now and then, and I like how these type of books actually explore the "what ifs" and sort of make you think as well. There are just so many possibilities ...

I this novel Jillian is dissatisfied with her picture perfect life. She adores her daughter Katie, but her marriage is falling apart - she and her husband Henry seem to have drifted apart as many couples do as time goes by. When she hears that her ex-boyfriend Jackson is getting married, she remembers their spontaneous relationship and wonders what would have been if they hadn't broken up. She gets the chance to find out after she is (rather unbelivevably) transported 7 years back, into the year 2000 when she was still with Jackson, had a job, before she met Henry and before her best friend died. Since she knows what will happen, she can correct the mistakes she did the first time around and even though she tries to alter the course of her life, she starts to reflect back on her life in 2007. Seeing things in a new light, she finally decides what really matters.

Firstly, I must admit the book failed to meet the high expectations I had for it, but that might be because I've been so busy lately that it took me too long to read and get properly engrossed into it. Perhaps that's why I didn't really connect with any of the characters, not even Jillian herself. I just couldn't feel for her enough, even though I enjoyed reading her story and did rather wonder where this trip back will lead her to.

Speaking of which, I found the ending quite rushed. I understand how Jillian made her decision, but I thought it all happened too quickly and drastically, making it seem like it was all a dream and she was simply waking up from it. I was pleased with the outcome as such, but I still think the book was quite complex and should thus be longer since I thought some subjects weren't explored in depth enough and the book left me wanting more.

What I liked most about the novel was the writing - I thought the language was beautiful and the language flowed easily, which is more than I could say for the plot, which I found rather slow-paced.

All in all, I thought this was a well-written and interesting novel that explores some rather complex topics, but to meet its potential it should be at least one hundred pages longer. But wahey, that's just silly ol' me - everyone else seems to have loved this book!

Have you reviewed it? Let me know and I'll add your review to this post. :)

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

28 November 2009

In My Mailbox #19

I've had a bit of a quiet week book wise ... The only book I got was Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott, which I admit I bought mostly because I *love* the title and the cover - oh and yeah, the plot sounds interesting too. :) Has anyone read it?
I also got some fantastic swag - Jackie Dolamore, the author of MAGIC UNDER GLASS (which comes out in less than a month!) kindly sent me some gooorgeous bookmarks and (get this!) a signed book plate with her drawings of the main two characters! How amazing is that?! :) Thanks so much, Jackie!!!

And that's it! I look forward to seeing what everyone else got! :)

27 November 2009

Behind the scenes of the Splendor cover shoot!

I'm sure we all agree that the covers for The Luxe series are absolutely gorgeous, right? If you're not familiar with the books yet, then you can see the covers in my review of the first book - those are actually the UK covers, which have the exact same images as the US ones, but the British designers have added those cute swirly thingies, which I think make the covers even more beautiful!

Anyway, ever wondered how these wonderful covers get made? I've recently come across a video posted on MarjoleinBookBlog that takes us all behind the scenes of the cover shoot for Splendor, the last book in the series, which just came out in the US, but those of us waiting for the UK release will have to wait till January 2010, boo!

This cover is possibly my favourite one of the series and I found it really interesting to see how they shot it. In the video, you'll see that they actually shot an alternative cover picture as well and I think that I actually prefer the gold one with the loose hair that wasn't used in the end (click here for a quick screencap), but I can't complain about the winning shot either, it's beautiful, not only due to the lovely dress, but also thanks to the stunning model posing as Lina (I think) - honestly, this girl is just too pretty!

See for yourself! Which one do you prefer? :)



ps: Oh and if you haven't read the books yet, then by all means do yourself a favour and read them asap - they're just SO good! Delicious escapism!

25 November 2009

Waiting On Wednesday: THE ONE THAT I WANT

"What if you could see into the future? What if you didn't like what was revealed? Would you still choose to see it?
Tilly Everett has a wonderful life - a guidance counselor in her old high school, a solid marriage to her teenage sweetheart, a quiet, compact existence which suits her just fine. Her father has wound his way out of his alcoholic blackness, her youngest sister has shed most of the wounds from their mother's death, and Tilly watches over them, over everyone to ensure that there are no sudden movements, no tidal waves to upset their balance.
But a chance meeting with a childhood friend changes that. Changes everything.
I'm giving you the gift of clarity, Ashley Simmons tells her in an incense-filled tent behind Westlake's Fourth of July carnival, and suddenly, Tilly - like it or not - starts seeing things, things that don't logically add up, that fly in the face of the foundation that she's worked so hard to build. And like an unspooling spindle, these unwelcome visions alter everything Tilly has come to believe about herself, her marriage, her life.
What if you could see into the future? Would you want to know what fate has in store? Would you furiously try to change it, despite the fact that the future might be cast in stone?
These are the questions that Tilly faces, the destiny she races against, as she tries to determine which life she wants: the one she'd nursed for decades or the one she never considered to be possible."

I've actually just finished Time of My Life (by this author), which was a good read (review coming soon) and I think her next one sounds interesting too! I'm generally not a fan of paranormal elements in a book, but I do like time travelling bits (occassionally). This novel comes out in June 2010.

ps: WoW is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

22 November 2009

Review: AUDREY, WAIT! by Robin Benway *****

Audrey Cutler is a normal Southern California girl. OK, her cat is overweight, but her best friend is awesome, and her parents might be hippies, but they adore her - because Audrey is funny, charming, and she likes her music loud.
So she struggles with dumping her musician boyfriend, Evan. She loves his band, but he's just too self-involved. Audrey needs to move on.
Then at one of Evan's gigs, Audrey gets to hear their brand new single and moving on doesn't seem so easy now: the song is called Audrey, Wait and it's all about her, and not in a good way ... The song storms quickly up the charts and reaches the top. Suddenly everyone wants to know: who is Audrey? The media is all over her like a rash, and what started out as annoying is becoming a nightmare!
On top of this, it is ruining her chances with James, her colleague at Scooper Dooper ice cream parlour. Audrey's life is veering out of control and there's only one thing for it. She's going to have to stand up and tell the world her side of the story ...

I've read SO many fantastic reviews of this novel all over the blogosphere that I just had to give it a try myself and now I definitely know why everyone and their monkey adores this gem of a book!

Firstly, it's downright hilarious and I found myself chuckling or cracking up on pretty much every page. The narrator Audrey is a seriously cool kid and her narration is very enjoyable; I think it was actually the best part of the book. The dialogue was great too, it was like one joke after another. All in all, this is definitely a book that will cheer you up even on the worst day, heh.

Secondly, the characters are just adorable! I can't say they were the most well developed characters ever, but that was beside the point in this case. All characters (well, at least the main ones - Audrey, Victoria, Jonah & James; oh and Audrey's super cool parents) are fantastic on their own, but Audrey and Victoria's friendship was also really well portrayed and it was the kind of friendship everyone can dream of, they really are the epitome of BFFs. The relationship subplots were really cute too - ah, to be 16 again, haha.

Plot-wise, the book was actually really quite simple (you can read pretty much the whole story in the summary above), which is not something that I generally applaud too, but again in this case it just didn't matter since the book excelled in terms of narration and characters. Nonetheless, the plot gets one massive plus for mostly revolving around music in one way or another - there are concerts, songs, jukeboxes, music shops, mixed CDs etc. You can tell the author (as well as our beloved Audrey) is a music geek (meant as a compliment!) so music plays a huge part in the story and a song is even featured in the title. I guess that's just one way of showing how a simple song can change lives - and boy oh boy, does Audrey's life change just because her ex wrote a song about her breaking up with him. Yeah, sure, she gets backstage passes and big offers people want her to be their muse too, but the downside is that everyone knows her and the paparazzi are following her and people are hiding in the bushes to tape her and taking pictures of her during class and she has fans as well as haters. Basically, her life becomes one big mess, but you know a badass chick like Audrey will find the perfect way to get closure, hehehe.

Oh and to top it all off, the cover is actually really cool too! I have the UK one and if you click the picture above to enlarge it, you'll see that it's actually like a vinyl record; if you touch it, it feels like one too. The cover is actually really fitting to the story - again, it's all about muuuuusic, woo.

Yes, I know this is not a masterpiece as such, but I just can't help help rating it 5/5. Every now and then it's not to read a 'happy book' and this is definitely one that'll crack you up and make you feel all warm & fuzzy inside. Strongly recommended for any reader of YA!

Have I mentioned that I'm really really really excited about the author's next book? Because yeah, I am - it's bound to be fantastic! ;)

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

21 November 2009

In My Mailbox #18

As always, this meme is hosted by The Story Siren and it lets us display the books we've received in the past week. Here's what I got:

Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling
The Everafter by Amy Huntley
The Dresskeeper by Mary Naylus
Naked in Knightsbridge by Nicky Schmidt

I'd like to thank Prospera Publishing for kindly sending me the last two titles to review!

ps: Please excuse my lack of super activity on the blog in the next few weeks - I'll be very busy and will sadly have less time to read and review books on a very regular basis. I'll still be reading other blogs and updating here, just not every day or anything. Please bear with me, darlings. :)

18 November 2009

Waiting On Wednesday: MAY, APRIL & JUNE

Three sisters, three extraordinary, life-changing powers!
"I hugged my sisters and they fit against my sides like two jigsaw pieces that would never fit anywhere else. I couldn’t imagine ever letting them go again, like releasing them would be to surrender the best parts of myself."

Three sisters share a magical, unshakeable bond in this witty high-concept novel from the critically acclaimed author of Audrey, Wait! Around the time of their parents’ divorce, sisters April, May, and June recover special powers from childhood—powers that come in handy navigating the hell that is high school. Powers that help them cope with the hardest year of their lives. But could they have a greater purpose?

April, the oldest and a bit of a worrier, can see the future. Middle-child May can literally disappear. And baby June reads minds—everyone’s but her own. When April gets a vision of disaster, the girls come together to save the day and reconcile their strained family. They realize that no matter what happens, powers or no powers, they’ll always have each other.

Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.

As soon as I found out about this book, it immediately jumped to the top of my THINGS I NEED RIGHT NOW wishlist and it's featured on all top three spots! I honestly cannot wait till August 2010 to read it, that's just plain torture!
I'm currently reading Audrey, Wait by the same author, Ms Robin Benway, and it's one of the most fun books ever, I loooove it (review coming soon)! That's why I'm convinced that The Extraordinary Secrets of May, April & June will be a kickass book too! It just has SO much potential, starting with the intriguing title, the stunning & eye-catching cover and I'm hella excited about the plot just reading *about* it, I'll probably just burst with excitement when I'm actually reading the book, lol! Those three magical powers (seeing the future, disappearing & mind reading) sound like the coolest things ever, but I can see how they could cause serious problems too, haha!
Honestly, I just cannot wait to read this book!

OMG! Win a signed ARC of In a Heartbeat!!!


The wonderful Park Avenue Princess is hosting the best competition ever right now and she's giving away a signed ARC of IN A HEARTBEAT by Loretta Elsworth!!! If you've been reading this blog for a while, then you know that I'm DYING to get my hands on this book (featured it in my WoW a while ago) and reading it a few months before publication would be a dream come true! Plus it's signed! Aaah! *hyperventilating*

Anyway, click here to enter the competition - if *you* win, do you think you could pass the ARC back to me as a thanks for informing you about this dream contest? :) Please, pretty please? :)))

ps: Oh and you really should follow Park Avenue Princess and if you do become a follower, then please please mention that I sent you. :)

16 November 2009

Review: SHIP OF DREAMS by Martina Devlin ****

"April 1912 - disaster strikes Titanic, the largest steamer in the world, founders, taking with her the lives of fifteen hundred. But what of those who escape? A small group of survivors meet on one of the Titanic's lifeboats, saved from death by random chance. Drawn from different nationalities and walks of life, they have only one factor in common: all have survived a tragedy that captures the world’s imagination. This thread binds them together when they are rescued and taken to New York. Nancy Armstrong, 18 years old, pregnant and newly widowed, can she maintain her status in New York society without her husband’s connections and wealth? Bridie Ryan, penniless but determined: can the American dream come true for her? And Hannah O’Brien, also pregnant, can she build a life for herself and her American child to be? Then there is Louis Stubel, the French gentleman’s secretary with ambitions to better himself; US Cavalry officer Major Richmnd Hudson, convinced his dead wife intervened to rescue him; and English teacher Edmund Newton who was plucked from the sea by the Irish girls. From the factory floor to film premieres, from tenements to townhouses and from impoverished rural Ireland to the upper echelons of New York society; all who survive the Titanic are buoyed together, struggling to keep their dreams afloat.
They cheated death - and life would never be the same."


I have this thing for cruises and luxurious ships and I've always been fascinated by the Titanic tragedy. I was hoping someone would write a novel about it and my wishes were granted by Ms Devlin, who wrote The Ship of Dreams. She says the novel was actually inspired by her great grand-uncle Tom O'Brien, who was eloping on the Titanic with his wife-to-be Hannah. Poor Tom never made it to the US to get a fresh start, but Hannah survived. She was pregnant in April 1912 and a few months later gave birth to Tom's daughter Marion. The book features a couple of photographs of the three of them and I thought that was a really nice touch. The author herself stresses in the introduction that only these few names and facts are actually true and that the book on the whole is a factionalized account of what may have been.

One of the first scenes of the novel is actually the sinking of the Titanic and people being saved on lifeboats (you can read that chapter here). It's quite a poignant scene and it gives a good sense of what a tragedy the sinking of the Titanic really was. Everyone knows many people died with it, but this book gives names and faces both to people who passed away and those who survived and their grief.
The story focuses mostly on the six people mentioned in the summary and how they coped with their new lives in the first year after the tragedy. They found themselves in the same lifeboat and were thus linked forever and kept in touch when they started new lives; some even fell in love. I can't say the plot is very exciting, but I did enjoy reading about the Titanic as well as about the lives of people in the 1910s in New York. I can tell the author did a lot of research, which resulted in a credible story with lovely characters (my favourite one was probably Bridie, the strong independant woman).

I thought the strongest point of this novel was actually the writing, which is simply marvellous and fits the time in which the novel takes place. I really appreciate it when authors don't only tell the story, but make a real effort to do it in terms of writing and I can tell that Ms Devlin certainly accomplished that; the third person narrative flows beautifully and each character is given a unique voice, which is something that not all authors manage to do.

All in all, I'd definitely recommend this if you're fascinated by the Titanic - and who isn't? Speaking of which, I read that the author is planning "to sail the 2012 centenary commemoration voyage" (source), which would be a dream come true for me too! Fingers crossed she'll write a novel about this trip for all those of us who (most likely) won't be able to experience it for ourselves. :)

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

15 November 2009

In My Mailbox #17

IMM is hosted by The Story Siren.
Ooh, I'm pleased to say I've had another grrrreat book week! I acquired a whole bunch of fantastic books and I really want to read them all NOW, but I just wish I had more free time ... Anyway, here's what I got:



The Blasphemer (ARC) by Nigel Farndale
Florence and Giles (ARC) by John Harding
All The Things We Didn't Say by Sara Shepard
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
At Face Value by Emily Franklin
Heaven Can Wait by Cally Taylor
Ice Princess (Skate School) by Kay Woodward
Before I Die by Jenny Downham
Invisible I (Amanda Project) by Stella Lennon

Off to check now what everyone else got! :)

14 November 2009

Pre-ordering bonanza & Secret Santa!

Whoa, so I think I just sort of pre-ordered 8 books? I wasn't really planning to, I was just browsing my favourite online bookshop (I LOVE YOU, BOOK DEPOSITORY AND YOUR FREE WORLDWIDE DELIVERY!!! <3), looking up some titles I'm excited about and damn, the prices were so damn low that I just couldn't resist clicking the Pre-Order button and before I knew it I ended up with 8 (yeah, EIGHT) pre-ordered books, lol. Maddening, I know, but honestly, who could ever resist at such prices?! I would buy these books anyway and by pre-ordering them I just saved a whole bunch of money, being the smart (& book crazy) girl that I am, yee-haw. *high fives self* ;) Here's what I treated myself to:

Win, win, win! I love Book Depository with all my heart and I'm doing this for promotion (ha, I can only wish that they paid me instead of the other way around :p) or anything, I'm just so excited! Can't wait to finally get and read all these fantastic books!!! And the best thing about the whole thing is that the price you see listed is actually all I have to pay - no additional delivery costs (yeah, free worldwide delivery fo' realz!), which I appreciate veeeeery much since I live in the middle of nowehere (i.e. outside the UK/US).

In other lovely news, I *finally* signed up for Secret Santa over at The Neverending Shelf! Kate has come up with a great idea of people signing up and then sending a book to each other during the festive season. How exciting! You can read more about it HERE and you only have till tomorrow evening to sign up so hurry, what are you waiting for?! :)



ps: I really must get some reading done now! Surely I'm not the only person who thinks and talks about reading for more than actually reading, lol. A little less conversation, a little more action, please!

12 November 2009

Review: PLAYING THE FIELD by Emma Heatherington ***

Donegal lass Cara McCarthy has always been a tomboy type of girl, who wouldn't care how to spell Versace, let alone have any desire to wear it. On a career break in London, she lands a job as a cleaner which is right up her street just then. Her new boss is Sophia Brannigan the fashionista girlfriend of gorgeous Fulton FC Premiership star, Dylan Summers, and her new place of work is their luxurious home, Summer Manor. Cara is determined to stay in the background, but life has other plans. Before she can say 'Manolo', she finds herself plunged in at the deep end of high fashion and posh parties. With a friendly father figure in gardener Sam and a delightful new arrival called Lola, Cara's new life is set to be both fun and challenging. But as Sophia's hunger for celebrity grows, so does Cara s bond with Dylan Summers and soon everything she does at Summer Manor seems destined to land her deeper and deeper into trouble ...

I've been wanting to read this book ever since I saw the cover posted at Chick Lit Reviews a few months ago. The plot sounded quite interesting too, but sadly the book didn't quite live up to my expectations.

The novel tells the story of Cara ("Irish for friend"), who moves to London to escape her "shady past" and start afresh. She lives in a flat with her friend Natalie and her brother Liam. One day, she gets a job as a cleaner/housekeeper of a hot football star Dylan and his fame-crazy girlfriend Sophia. The latter is determined to become a star WAG and uses Cara on her way to stardom and Cara mostly puts up with it since she benefits from it too. On the other hand, Dylan is a very nice guy and not too keen on being in the spotlight. Sooo the inevitable happens - Dylan and Cara find out that they have a lot in common ... Can you guess what happens next? ;)

Yeah, that's pretty much it. There are a couple of minor twists and turns and so called scandals, but very little actually happens. However, despite the fact that this book is not particularly exciting, I still found it enjoyable and read it quite fast. It's nicely written and there are a few witty scenes and I mostly liked reading about the luxurious lifestyle Cara found herself in.

What I disliked most about the novel were the characters, who I found quite one dimensional. Maybe Cara, Liam and Natalie were better portrayed, but I found especially Sophia rather cartoon-like (she was always acting like a textbook bitch - boring) and I thought Dylan was underdeveloped too (he was like an angel among footballers and we only got to see his nice side). I'm afraid none of the characters impressed me and sadly I remained quite indifferent to them.

All in all, I'd recommed this if you're looking for a very simple and an enjoyable quick read with a pretty cover. :)

overall rating: 3/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 3/5 | characters: 2/5 | cover: 4/5

11 November 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: ANXIOUS HEARTS

“Evangeline,” he repeated, calling at a whisper. “Evangeline.” He was not calling that she may hear, he was calling that somehow her soul might know that he was devoted entirely to her, only to her. “Evangeline, I will find you.”

Eva and Gabe explore the golden forest of their seaside Maine town, unknowingly tracing the footsteps of two teens, Evangeline and Gabriel, who once lived in the idyllic wooded village of Acadia more than one hundred years ago. On the day that Evangeline and Gabriel were be wed, their village was attacked and the two were separated. And now in the present, Gabe has mysteriously disappeared from Eva.

A dreamlike, loose retelling of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous love poem “Evangeline,” Anxious Hearts tells an epic tale of unrequited love and the hope that true love can be reunited.

This meme was started by Breaking the Spine. I learned about this novel when The Story Siren posted her latest edition of Books to Pine For and fell in love with it immediately. Who wouldn't? The title is lovely, the cover's gorgeous and the plot sounds really interesting (I'm quite surprised that it was written by a guy, hehe). Can't wait for May 2010 when this book finally comes out!

9 November 2009

Review: THE BOOK OF TOMORROW by Cecelia Ahern *****

"Tamara Goodwin has always got everything she's ever wanted. Born into a family of wealth, she grew up in a mansion with its own private beach, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and all that a girl could ever wish for. She's always lived in the here and now, never giving a second thought to tomorrow. But then suddenly her dad is gone and life for Tamara and her mother changes forever. Left with a mountain of debt, they have no choice but to sell everything they own and move to the country. Nestled next to Kilsaney Castle, their gatehouse is a world away from Tamara's childhood. With her mother shut away with grief, and her aunt busy tending to her, Tamara is lonely and bored and longs to return to Dublin. When a travelling library passes through Kilsaney Demesne, Tamara is intrigued. Her eyes rest on a mysterious large leather bound tome locked with a gold clasp and padlock. What she discovers within the pages takes her breath away and shakes her world to its core."

This is actually the first book by Cecelia Ahern that I've read; I own three others, but they never really intrigued me enough to actually read them, I'm ashamed to say. This book however fascinated me as soon as I heard about it months ago. The story seemed great, but I somehow still expected the story to be cheesy - luckily, it was anything but that! In fact, in was absolutely fantastic (good win, very dead *wink wink*) and all I can say is W-O-W!!!

What I loved most about this book was definitely the narrative voice of Tamara Goodwin. I can't say she's the most likeable character ever as she even herself confesses she's a spoilt selfish mean brat among other things, but on the other hand I thought she was just a typical teenager, always arguing with her parents and moaning for no reason. For the first 16 years of her life, she led a very privileged life and took everything for granted, but after her father's death she is forced to learn a few hard life lessons. Despite all her flaws, I really really really enjoyed her narrative and her fantastic snarky remarks that had me in stitches several times (I still chuckle just thinking about some scenes, lol).

Luckily, Tamara's character wasn't the only one that was immensely well portrayed - I pretty much loved ALL the characters! My favourite was probably Marcus (even though that subplot wasn't quite resolved the way I hoped it would be) - the Bookman with his lovely Bookmobile, but how could you possibly not love the nuns who enjoy Mills & Boon books and drive around in a yellow Fiat Cinquicento (hey, I used to drive an orange Fiat Seicento so who am I to judge :p)?! Yep, Sister Ignatius was the best nun ever - talk about defying steretypes, hehe. Or the mysterious relatives, an uncle who rarely opens his mouth and a strange aunt? Honestly, you couldn't possibly wish for better characters, they were pretty much perfect!

The plot was also fantaaaaastic and I loved the whole mystery surrounding Tamara's new life, which is only increased by her new surrounding, a cottage in the middle of nowhere, next to the ruins of a mysterious deserted castle. There were all these questions that kept popping up: Why is Tamara's mother acting so strange, even for a grieving person? Why does uncle Arthur barely speak? Why is aunt Rosaleen so peculiar (you could tell there was more than meets the eye, but I was certainly not expecting the final twist!!)? What's in the garage? Who lives in the bungalow? What happened to the people in the castle when the fire broke out? What does Sister Ignatius know? Sooo many questions and I was pleased to say that everything was satisfactorily explained in the rather explosive conclusion which quite resembled an action film, hehe. Talk about a life-changing twist, whoooooa!

Ms Ahern is famous for her magical elements in her works and in this case it was this diary that contains the entries from the future, giving Tamara a chance to change it or act accordingly. (What would you do, huh? :)) It may sound a bit weird, but it worked out really well in the course of the book, I thought it was quite clever actually!
(By the way, do you think the last sentence in the book implies a sequel? Ooh, I'd love one!)

I'm not quite sure which genre the book belongs to though ... It's more YA than chicklit if anything, but I don't think it quite fits either so I've decided to label it as general as I think it would appeal to everyone!

Seriously, what's not to love about this book?! The narration/writing is fantastic, the characters are lovely, the plot is wonderfully mysterious (gripping stuff, honestly) and the cover is gorgeous! This EPIC WIN of a book blew my mind and jumped straight into my Top 5 reads of 2009! Surely Ms Ahern's previous can't be any better than this? But even if they're half as good, I'll definitely give them a try now! I'm so hyped up and can't stop raving about this book now so I think I better stop before I get slightly carried away - oh, wait, is it already too late for that? :)

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

Additional reviews: Leah, Chloe, Dot - be sure to read those too! :)

7 November 2009

In My Mailbox #16

This fantastic meme is hosted by The Story Siren so head over there if you're interested in what books other bloggers received in the past week (click to enlarge). On the right, you can see a picture of the lovely books I've acquired and if any of them tickle your fancy, then just click the covers below for more info on each title.

I'd like to thank Poolbeg for sending me the last four titles below (Jumping in Puddles & Ship of Dreams & Win Some, Love Some & Playing the Field) to review. I was so happy to receive these books and I must admit I haven't heard of this Irish publisher before, but they have some fantastic books in their range so do pay them a visit.

I'd also like to thank Rene aka The Book Girl for hosting a contest in which I won a shiny hardcover copy of Blue Plate Special, squeeee! Many thanks also to Chronicle Books for sending over my prize, yay! I've heard the book is great and I can't wait to read it!

5 November 2009

Review: LUXURY by Jessica Ruston ****

"MAKE IT
Sexy, smart New Yorker Logan Barnes knew how to take what he wanted to get where he wanted to be. But you can’t win the girl, make the money and live the high life without picking up enemies along the way …
BREAK IT
There’s only one enemy who matters, and that’s the friend Logan betrayed years ago – Nicolo Flores. He got mad, but better still he got even, waiting in the wings to pull the plug on Logan and and see his fortunes come crashing down.
BUT SAVE THE BEST CARD FOR LAST
Now Logan’s back, in London with a perfect wife, perfect family, and the perfect jewel to crown his rebuilt hotel empire: a stunning island getaway for the truly ├╝ber-rich. Niccolo’s crazy to find a way to crush him again – but with gambling, addiction, sex and scandal all knocking on the Barnes’ family door, maybe they’ll destroy themselves before he even has a chance to …
A DEVASTATINGLY GOOD LOOK AT LIFE LIVED IN THE LAP OF LUXURY"

I honestly had no idea what to expect from this novel. The blurb made it sound like it was about two men (?!) and the cover suggested something more chicklity (the cover is pretty but quite deceiving, by the way). I was confused but even more intrigued, especially after reading glowing reviews pretty much everywhere online. I wasn't entirely sure if this would be my cup of tea, but I decided to give it a try after being offered a review copy by Headline (Thank you!) and I certainly don't regret my decision - reading this book was one hell of a ride!

The story doesn't quite sound like something I typically go for, but I was surprised how quickly I was sucked into it and the pages just flew by ... I have no intention of posting the detailed summary as it would take forever - there's just too much going on! But to quickly recap: Once upon a time in the 1980s, there were 3 guys, Logan, Johnny and Nicolo. They were best friends with very big plans, but they fell apart after Logan stole Nicolo's girlfriend Maryanne. Nicolo vowed to get his revenge. His sabotaged his enemy a few times in the next couple of decades, but hasn't quite managed to ruin him despite his best attempts. However, when Logan embarks on his most ambitious project yet, the opening of the exclusive and private hotel on a picture perfect island called Luxury (hence the title), Nicolo recognizes this as the perfect opportunity to finally get even for the pain he suffered years ago, but he will need quite a bit of help to succeed ...

I could be said that this is mainly a story about revenge and rivalry between two incredibly successful and ruthless men. In this story of betrayal, manipulation, blackmail, dark secrets and sinister plans among other things, the stakes are high and absolutely nothing is off limits. The ultimate revenge plot severely affects many lifelong friendships and seemingly perfect families; by the end of the book, the lives of everyone involved are changed forever and only a few survive the consequences of the devastating actions ...
The main story may be about two middle-aged men (it's honestly far more interesting than it sounds!), but on the other hand, there are also numerous subplots regarding Logan's wife Maryanne and her addiction problems, their children Charlie and Lucia, Logan's friends Johnny and Mark, a mother and daughter who have their own reason for revenge, a woman's who's trying to escape her violent husband and many others.

This is certainly not a fairytale about the lives of the rich and the famous - if anything, it's more a tragedy and shows that the lives of these people are less enviable than they may seem ... Nonetheless, the novel does provide fascinating insight into the lives of the incredibly rich people and your jaw's bound to drop several times when you read about the "things" these people come up with, hehe. Being richer than rich may have plenty of advantages, but on the whole it may not be all it's cracked up to be seeing how the price these people have to pay to solve their problems is sometimes even more than they can afford.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book far more than I expected. The writing as such may be just above average, but the fascinating story with its twists & turns and the passionate characters make this bonkbuster unputdownable - escapism at its best!

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

3 November 2009

Teaser Tuesday: THE BOOK OF TOMORROW

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"You're a strange man who travels in a bus full of books. Do you think I'm going to tell you where I live? I've heard about your kind," I said, walking away from the house and towards the bus.
This week's teaser was taken from my current read - The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern. I've just started it today and I'm really enjoying it so far. I quite like the sassy narrator Tamara and this book guy Marcus who's just showed up. They have some good chemistry and I wonder what the story has in store for them ... Stay tuned for my review in the next few days!

2 November 2009

Review: CONFESSIONS OF A RELUCTANT RECESSIONISTA ****

"Cassie Cavanagh has never minded being 'just a PA'. In fact she's quite content with her lot. She has a city job she kind of enjoys - after all she is indispensable, you know. She has a boyfriend who showers her with gifts - what more could a girl want? And she earns enough to (just about ) finance the luxuries she's become used to. But Cassie hadn't banked on being made redundant. Nor had she pictured her boyfriend leaving her for an older woman! Nor had she ever imagined needing to take financial advice from her student flatmate. Reluctant to embrace the art of being thrifty, if Cassie's going to survive the recession in style, she's a lot to learn about budgeting. And even more to learn about herself..."

The lovely Carolyn from Book Chick City offered me to guest review this book for her blog and since it's a title I've been looking forward to for months (proof), I was more than happy to take up the mission. The book took ages to arrive, but now the review is finally up - you can see my rating for it below, but you'll just have to head over to Book Chick City to read the whole thing. :)

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

1 November 2009

In My Mailbox #15

This meme is hosted by The Story Siren and it's meant for showing the books we've received in the past week. Here's what I got:

~ The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

~ A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

~ Anyone for Seconds? by Fiona Cassidy

~ Luxury by Jessica Ruston

(The last two titles were sent for review by Poolbeg and Headline respectively.)


Hope everyone else had a great book week too! :)