Book Review: The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of ThirdsThe Rule of Thirds

by Chantel Guertin

Published: October 2013 by ECW Press

Version: Ebook from publisher and Netgalley (review my own, honest opinion)

Rating: 4 sofas

Sixteen-year-old Pippa Greene never goes anywhere without her camera. She and her best friend/supermodel-in-training Dace long ago mapped out their life plan: Pippa will be the noted fashion photographer, and Dace the cover girl. But ever since last spring, things have changed for Pippa—and her junior year at Spalding High proves to have its own set of challenges. Not only is Vantage Point, the statewide photography competition, in three short weeks, but her mandatory volunteering placement lands her at St. Christopher’s Hospital, a place Pippa never wanted to set foot in again. With humor and pluck, she navigates her new role as a candy striper (watch out for Code Yellows), her changing relationship with her best friend (goodbye, Honesty Pact), and—perhaps most stressful of all—her new love interests (yes, love interests plural). Will Pippa make it to Vantage Point without having a panic attack? Will either one of the guys prove less sketchy than her last boyfriend? Can she and Dace figure out a way to dream big and be best friends? One thing is certain: real life is a lot more complicated than a photograph.

I would love to be good at photography. I did have an SLR camera at one point, but I was too lazy to carry it anywhere (it was massive). My digital camera suits me just fine, but after a year I still have no idea how to use most of its features, and I use it way less than I would like to. So straight away I relate to Pippa, who has the confidence to photograph pretty much anything, and quite often has a camera slung round her neck.

Overall I quite liked Pippa. She had a lot of emotions to deal with, and I think it gave her character depth. I didn’t really have any preference for any of the side characters though- her best friend or the love interests. So it did kinda turn into a one man show for me. That being said, the hospital and photography elements really made the story unique from other contemporaries. 

I felt that the book could’ve done with a sequel or a suitable epilogue. There was a character that never really got any punishment or bad karma for their wrongdoing, and I would’ve liked to see that happen. I also felt that there were more adventures in store for Pippa, but that also shows how much I liked her as a character.

A fun contemporary that also contains heartbreak and sadness, I really enjoyed A Rule of Thirds. The photography element is what really made it special for me. 4 sofas!

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Book Review: Pirouette

PirouettePirouette

by Robyn Bavati

Published: 8 November 2013 by Flux

Version: Ebook from publisher and Netgalley (review my own, honest opinion)

Rating: 3 sofas

Adopted as babies by two different families, Simone and Hannah have never known they are identical twins. Simone has been raised as a dancer, but she hates performing. Hannah loves nothing more than dance, but her parents see it as just a hobby. When the two girls meet for the first time at the age of fifteen, they decide to swap places to change the role dance plays in their lives. Yet fooling their friends and family is more challenging than either girl expected, and they’re both burdened by the weight of their lies.

How long can Hannah and Simone keep pretending? What will happen when the truth is revealed?

I selected this book to read because it looked like a fun middle grade. I enjoy books and films about dancing, so this certainly sounded like a book for me.

From the blurb alone it is obvious the similarities between this and the well known film The Parent Trap (and the lesser known It Takes Two). Basically where twins are separated at birth, meet at some sort of summer camp and decide to swap lives. As a side note, I never really understood how summer camps work and how children get sent away from the parents for basically the whole summer?! Is this just an American thing? Or just something they like to emphasise in books and films? 

In an ironic way, Simone has rich parents who enroll her in a special dancing academy and push her to dance at every opportunity, but she doesn’t enjoy it. Hannah’s parents would rather she focus on her studies, but her heart is in dancing. Unfortunately she is restricted to dancing as a hobby; only after school and weekends. 

By some stroke of luck they both end up at a dancing summer camp. After conspiring they decide that Hannah should pretend to be Simone so she can join advanced classes, and tell the camp that Hannah is no longer coming so that Simone can have some time off from dancing. Both characters are equally likeable, with Hannah growing in confidence as a performer and someone with natural talent. Simone, on the other hand, is a little spoilt, and instead finds her feet in happiness away from dancing. 

However, it becomes complicated when they decide to continue their switch back home, so Hannah can attend the dancing academy and Simone can spend her time reading. But how will they adjust to life away from their family? And it becomes even more complicated when boys become involved….

Pirouette was a fun read that I sped through. It was predictable but it really showed how we take things for granted sometimes, and what it would be like to live someone else’s life. Definitely recommended for younger dancing fans; 3 sofas! 

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Book Review: Speechless

SpeechlessSpeechless

by Hannah Harrington

Published: September 2012 by Mira Ink

Version: Ebook from publisher and Netgalley (review my own, honest opinion)

Rating: 4.5 sofas

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

I was excited to read this as I have heard nothing but good things about it. The idea seemed pretty simple; a loudmouth girl whose outbursts had serious consequences decides to take a vow of silence.

However, the story runs much deeper than that. It explores as teenagers (and adults) how easy it is to give into peer pressure. And how we convince ourselves that things we say or do aren’t really *that* bad. This book turns that all on a head, and shows that actually the little things can have dire results. And even if we might not remember it, something we say or do can have a profound effect on someone else, and therefore we should really think before we act.

The idea of taking a vow of silence baffles me. Obviously it would be totally impractical in a working day, but it is such a powerful notion in this book. It really highlights how much we rely on our voice, and different ways of expressing it. 

Although this book focusses on silence, ironically, it is also about speaking out. Chelsea is an easy target because she can’t really fight back. But does this allow her to be bullied?

Ultimately Speechless is about Chelsea’s journey of self discovery. Learning that being cool or popular doesn’t always equate with being happy. You should never have to be horrible to someone or hide your true self in order to gain friends. Asha is the personification of this; she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. And if that means she is ignored or bullied by the ‘popular’ group, then thats okay because she is true to herself.

I fell in love with Speechless. I adore issue books and this one certainly did not disappoint. It hit me a lot deeper than I expected, with the writing both emotional and beautiful. Perfect for any teenagers, it highlights the importance of standing up for yourself and not following the crowd. Highly recommended; 4.5 sofas!  

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Book Review: Finding It

Finding It (Losing It, #3)Finding It

by Cora Carmack

Published: 10 October 2013 by Ebury Press

Version: Ebook received from InkSlinger PR (review my own, honest opinion)

Rating: 4 sofas

Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find where you truly belong…

Most girls would kill to spend months traveling around Europe after college graduation with no responsibility, no parents, and no-limit credit cards. Kelsey Summers is no exception. She’s having the time of her life . . . or that’s what she keeps telling herself.

It’s a lonely business trying to find out who you are, especially when you’re afraid you won’t like what you discover. No amount of drinking or dancing can chase away Kelsey’s loneliness, but maybe Jackson Hunt can. After a few chance meetings, he convinces her to take a journey of adventure instead of alcohol. With each new city and experience, Kelsey’s mind becomes a little clearer and her heart a little less hers. Jackson helps her unravel her own dreams and desires. But the more she learns about herself, the more Kelsey realizes how little she knows about Jackson.

I am thrilled to be taking part in the review tour for Finding It (organised by InkSlinger PR). I have adored Cora’s previous books and was excited to hear more about Kelsey. I always eagerly anticipate Cora’s books as I know just what to expect: a little bit of sexy romance combined with funny awkward moments, and above all a great story. I can tell you know that Finding It certainly did not disappoint, so if you loved her others you should definitely pick this up. And if you haven’t, you really should! 

We follow Kelsey (who we met in Losing It) as she goes travelling around Europe. Kelsey is a fun loving character, but when she appears to be followed by a sexy soldier, it sends her party plans out the window. 

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“Adventures don’t happen when you’re worried about the future or tied down by the past. They only exist in the now. And they always, always come at the most unexpected time, in the least likely of packages. An adventure is an open window; and an adventurer is the person willing to crawl out on the ledge and leap.”

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I’d love to be able to travel around Europe and visit all the romantic and exotic locations, such as Italy and Paris. I’m just not brave enough to do so! This is one of the reasons I fell in love with this book; each location Kelsey and Jackson travel to makes me more wistful of beautiful places. Sometimes fun and usually romantic, each setting is special in its own different way, and this set Finding It apart from Cora’s other books, which have both been focussed around  America. 

Kelsey as a character was quite hard to love. The way she wore her happy mask showed pretty much from the beginning that she was a girl running away from something. Heavily in denial about her baggage, she threw herself into the partying lifestyle. In a way, she reminded me of Max from ‘Faking It’. Unfortunately, while Max’s story hit me hard and made me fall in love with her, I just didn’t take to Kelsey the same way. Whether it is because I was more invested in Cade as a partner than Jackson, I’m not sure.

If you love European romances, this is definitely the book for you. Fun and very romantic, this made me want to explore secret locations all over the world. Yet another winner by Cora! 4 sofas.

Author Bio

Cora Carmack bio pic

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

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FI Review Tour

Book Review: The Bunker Diary

The Bunker DiaryThe Bunker Diary

by Kevin Brooks

Published: March 2013 by Penguin 

Version: Paperback from library

Rating: 3 sofas

Room meets Lord of the Flies, The Bunker Diary is award-winning, young adult writer Kevin Brooks’s pulse-pounding exploration of what happens when your worst nightmare comes true – and how will you survive?
I can’t believe I fell for it.
It was still dark when I woke up this morning.
As soon as my eyes opened I knew where I was.
A low-ceilinged rectangular building made entirely of whitewashed concrete.
There are six little rooms along the main corridor.
There are no windows. No doors. The lift is the only way in or out.
What’s he going to do to me?
What am I going to do?
If I’m right, the lift will come down in five minutes.
It did. Only this time it wasn’t empty . . .

I knew this book was going to be strange as soon as I heard about it. Kevin Brooks was one of my favourite writers as a young teenager, as his writing is just so emotive. So I went into The Bunker Diary with nervous anticipation. And the cover and tagline are completely intriguing! 

Linus wakes up in a locked bunker-like building, with no exit; only a lift. It appears he has been abducted. But by who? And why? Why him, what for? SO MANY questions surround this story. In the beginning it was a definite page turner as I wanted to find out more about Linus and how he was going to get out of the bunker. I really felt Linus’ powerless feelings. The book is written in diary format from Linus’ point of view, and it helps to dig deep into his emotions.

All the characters are really well developed in the book. Each one is quite different, and trying to figure out the connection between them was difficult. They all responded to the situation in separate ways; Linus tries to think of ways to escape, while others are in denial. I enjoyed this aspect of the book, as it made me think about what it takes for people to survive these sorts of ordeals. To know that this could have been based on a true story made it feel very raw. 

Towards the end of the book I could sense we were coming towards the climax, and was eager to discover how it was going to wrap up. I wanted to know who the abducter was and why he had taken these (seemingly) random six people and kept them in a bunker. 

The ending was just unbelievable. It left me turning the blank pages at the end, and wondering where the rest was. I had to go back and read the last couple of pages to actually confirm that the book did actually end like that. It completely shocked me, and probably left me with my jaw hanging open for quite some time. Not really suited to a YA audience, it was actually quite sickening. 

Gripping and unique, the plotline sucked me in. I loved the emotive writing but I just felt the ending was entirely WRONG. For that reason, I have to give The Bunker Diary 3 sofas

Book Review: Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy

by David Levithan

Published: May 2005 (originally). Reprint 1st August 2013 by Harper Collins

Version: Paperback from publisher (review my own, honest opinion)

Rating: 4.5 sofas

This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance. 

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.

I originally read this book earlier this year for Faye’s LGBT Readathon. I loved the book, but didn’t document my thoughts. However, Harper Collins decided to do a reprint of this and another David Levithan book and I snapped at the chance to reread it!

We follow Paul as a kind of ‘out and proud’ gay boy in a town where there isn’t a lot of discrimination. Many of the LGBT books I have read deals with the hardship of discovering and categorising sexuality, and sharing this decision with friends and family. It was refreshing to see it from the other side; Paul’s parents are very accepting, and in this respect he has an easy life.

Although Paul is the main character, I don’t think the story would be half as amazing without the strong side characters. Paul’s best friends are Joni (who has problem boyfriends) and Tony (who is gay, but has to hide it as he has very religious parents). As well as helping to deal with their issues, he also has to tackle feelings for his ex, Kyle, who has ignored Paul ever since they split up. So when he meets Noah in the bookstore, he has yet more emotions to deal with.

Although the theme in this book is primarily LGBT, it also explores a lot about friendship and high school life. I think this is most prevalent in the bond between Tony and Paul. They’ve never dated but have an ever better connection. I really rooted for Tony throughout and felt his struggle more than anyone else.

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“In other circumstances, this would have been the start of a romance. But I think we both knew, even then, that what we had was even more rare, and even more meaningful. I was going to be his friend and was going to show him possibilities. And he, in turn, would become someone I could trust more than myself.”

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One of the things I love about David Levithan is the way he describes the world and relationships. It is just so beautiful. I found myself wanting to mark lots of passages because quotes really stood out to me, and I feel like I highlighted the whole book!

I think the only down side if this book was that it felt a bit safe for me; I would say it is aimed at younger YA audiences. The main boys are quite stereotypical; the out and proud, the shy one and the confused one. It is quite ‘safe’, and personally I would say unrealistic. It was good to show homosexuality in a more accepting light, but I just couldn’t believe that this world exists, sadly.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, and the romance was very cute. I liked how the side characters were just as important as the main ones, and look forward to reading more by this author! 4.5 sofas.

“If you want to be loved, be lovable.”

Book Review: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares

Dash & Lily's Book of DaresDash & Lily’s Book of Dares

by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

Published: 5th October 2012 by Mira Ink

Version: Paperback from library

Rating: 4 sofas

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors ofNick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

I wanted to read Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares as part of my David Levithan readathon, so I was thrilled when I saw it sitting on the library shelf (not my local). I was quite surprised how short it was, but heard lots of good things about the romance in it. 

It all begins when Dash discovers a notebook in his local bookshop, that leaves him a set of clues relating to certain books.  He decides to follow the instructions, but also to leave some clues of his own. Pretty soon Dash and Lily are corresponding through the notebook, sending each other to all sorts of places to do weird tasks. 

I must admit I found this portion of the book UTTERLY ADORABLE. Why can’t some cute guy leave me notes in my favourite bookshop?! (FYI, if you’re out there, its probably Waterstones in Bluewater or Piccadilly. Just in case) And to chase around the city following dares left in a notebook…. I adore the pre-Christmas period, where everyone is busy and festive, and this sounds like a perfect dream to me! It makes me want to take risks and be adventurous and maybe leave some notes of my own….. 

Lily was a bit desperate at times, but I did feel sorry for her too. All she wanted was a bit of excitement and somebody to like her for herself, and I think we all want that on some level. I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Dash, but I think thats just a boy thing. And he likes books. And he gave Lily one of the best experiences ever (not in a gross way!). So for that, he has my heart. 

There are some really adorable moments in this book and it definitely bought a smile to my face. I would love to reread this around Christmas time. I just wish it was longer! I wanted more dares, more romance, more angst, just MORE. 4 sofas!  

“There are just lots of possibilities in the world…I need to keep my mind open for what could happen and not decide that the world is hopeless if what I want to happen doesn’t happen. Because something else great might happen in between.”

“The important people in our lives leave imprints. They may stay or go in the physical realm, but they are always there in your heart, because they helped form your heart. There’s no getting over that.”