Friday, 21 February 2014

Book Review: Stella by Helen Eve

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books; 1 edition (2 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447241711
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447241713

17-year-old Stella Hamilton is the star blazing at the heart of Temperley High. Leader of the maliciously exclusive elite, she is surrounded by adulation; envied and lusted after in equal measure. And she is in the final stage of a five-year campaign to achieve her destiny: love with her equally popular male equivalent, and triumph as Head Girl on election night.
By contrast, new girl Caitlin Clarke has until now lived a quietly conformist life in New York. With the collapse of her parents’ marriage she has been sent across the Atlantic for an English boarding school education, only to discover that at Temperley, the only important rules are the unwritten ones. It's a world of the beautiful and the dangerous, and acceptance means staying on the right side of Stella Hamilton, the most beautiful and dangerous of them all.
Not everyone is happy to be under the Hamilton rule. But fighting the system means treading the same dark path as Stella - and if Caitlin puts a foot wrong, it's a long way down . . .

Stella Hamilton is the star of Temperley High School. Literally. She is the leader of an elite group of Stars who rule the school and set the standard for all other girls and is in the final stage of her campaign of supreme reign: love with her male counterpart and win position of Head Girl.

Caitlin Clarke is the new girl at Temperley and has a lived a quiet life compared to Stella. After her parents separation, she travelled with her father from New York to England to attend school and had to say goodbye to the little brother she adores. Caitlin quickly learns that those in charge at Temperley aren’t necessarily the teachers and the most important rules are the ones no one tells you about. 

When Stella takes Caitlin under wing, Caitlin blossoms. She sees what life is like on the beautiful side and she doesn’t ever want to go back. Life in the popular circle isn’t always sunshine and happiness. Some aren’t happy to be under Stella’s rule but going against the system means doing things like Stella would. And if you fall, it’s a long way to the bottom. 

I absolutely loved this book. It is one of the rare books that has me switching allegiances gradually throughout. It is fraught with the perils of teenage politics and drips elegance of wealth and luxury. At times the story did go that stretch too far to be believable, but it’s largeness only made it more fascinating. 

As the story progressed each girl grips furiously to what she has claimed at the school and neither will admit defeat, and even becomes a little unhinged in their mental state. There has been a lot of comparison with the Cecily von Ziegesar books, Mean Girls and Great Expectations and I can see why, but also, Stella stands up pretty well all on its own. 

Read it and be glad you never went to this school. 

Many thanks to My Kinda Book and Macmillan Children's Books for the review copy.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Book Review: Sea Glass by Maria V Snyder

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mira Ink; New edition edition (2 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848452470
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848452473

A Game of Magic Student magician Opal Cowan's newfound ability to steal others' powers makes her too powerful. Trapped under house arrest, Opal dares to defy her imprisonment, searching for Ulrick, the man she thinks she loves. Thinks because she is sure another man - now her prisoner - has switched souls with Ulrick. In hostile territory, without proof or allies, Opal isn't sure whom to trust. She doesn't know the real Ulrick's whereabouts and can't forget Kade, the handsome Stormdancer who doesn't want to let her get too close. And now everyone is after Opal's special powers for their own deadly gain...

Times aren’t getting any easier for Opal. Her unique glass messengers have become a vital part of society. But now dangerous factions are trying to gain control of them for themselves which would mean control of Sitia and Opal herself.

Opal is still meeting resistance when she tries to prove the existence of blood magic. At every turn she is faced with doubt and even begins to doubt herself. Family, friends and mentor deny its existence and Opal fears no one will ever believe her until it is too late. She has no idea who to trust and but in the end Opal must take a leap of faith. 

Whilst I haven’t fallen into this series with loving abandon like I have with other works by this author, I do really enjoy Opal’s series. It is more of a slow burner than a roaring inferno and I find myself thinking a lot more about these books. I am constantly wondering what will happen next as the plot twists and turns. 

Opal is a wonderful character. She is passionate and driven and sympathetic. I really felt for her when no one believed her about Ulrick and Devlen and rooted for her throughout the book. I cannot wait to read the third and final instalment of this series.

Many thanks to Mira Ink for the review copy.


Friday, 14 February 2014

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books; Unabridged edition (30 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447263227

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life.
Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible . . .

Cath and Wren are identical twins and all their life they have done everything together. They went to the same parties, had the same friends, had the same interests. But now they are starting college and Wren craves individuality. Cath is the more reserved of the two, and doesn’t like new situations. Wren throws herself into college life, makes instant friends with her new roommate and loves the nightlife. And all Cath wants to do is bury herself in the fan fiction she writes and pretend the outside world doesn’t exist. 

Cath’s comfort zone is totally ripped from her. Her sister is non-existent, the fiction-writing professor she idolised came down hard on her fan fiction and she can’t stop worrying about her dad. Everything feels like a battle, and all Cath wants to do is wave the white flag and admit defeat. But those around her won’t let her give in so easily.

I absolutely adored Fangirl. It was one of those books that you just sink into like a piece of mouth watering chocolate cake. Cath is a great protagonist and very true to what she believes in, though she can be stubborn to a fault.

One of the most interesting things I found about Fangirl was the relationships around Cath. There are a lot of different types and not all of them perfect or even good, and how unaware she is that they are there. 

Levi and Reagan have to be my two all time favourite characters of this book. Reagan is my kinda gal, straight talking and unapologetic for who she is. And really, who couldn’t adore Levi with his floppy hair and charm?

This book is a little on the tame side, considering it is set in college but it hits some serious notes. I loved the interactions between Cath and her dad and the dynamic of the twindom. 

All in all, you’d be crazy to pass this book by. Read it and love it. And pray for a sequel. #NEEDMORELEVI

Many thanks to My Kinda Book and MacMillan Children's Books for the review copy.

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