Review: Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1) by Rachel Hawkins

Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle, #1)

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

This was a weirder book than I was anticipating. While it had had some cute and funny moments, it was pretty odd.

Harper is the stereotypical queen bee at her school, except she’s not a mean girl. While we’re meant to believe that she’s an active over-achiever and good girl to make up for her older sister’s fall from grace (an even that is alluded to a few times before we finally find out what happens and then is never really explored further), for the most part I found her pretty vapid and shallow. She was often commenting on how pretty she was and all of problems started because she didn’t have lip gloss on. Really?

Then all of a sudden the school janitor dies and bestows upon her “superhero powers” and she’s just fine with it. It takes like a chapter for  her to come to terms with it. Later when she finds out she’s to protect David and David finds out about her powers – and his own – he takes a couple minutes to process it and then he just accepts it. It’s not like I want to read endless chapters of self-denial, but I felt like it should’ve taken them a little more time to get on board with things so crazy.

There wasn’t really a whole lot that went on in the middle of the book. David’s Aunt Saylor helps train Harper, which doesn’t seem to be really necessary since Harper’s abilities manifested instantly. There’s a lot of Harper feeling bad about lying to her friends and having problems with her boyfriend and a lot of awkward sexual tension growing between her and David. However, the end got a little more action-y and the love triangle seemed to get resolved – for awhile at least.

While I didn’t always like Harper, I liked the banter between her and David, which provided much of the humor in the book. And even though I know it’s going to provide a lot of unnecessary melodrama in the next book, I liked the twist in the end. Overall, this book was a little odd, but was cute and an easy read. I would recommend to people looking for a light read, who enjoy YA fantasy/contemporary.

Rating (out of 5):
Plot: 3
Characters: 3
Readability: 3.5
Enjoyability: 3.5
Overall Rating: 3.25 stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: August

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

Act Like You Love Me (Accidentally in Love, #2)

Act Like You Love Me (Accidentally in Love #2) by Cindi Madsen. Read August 11-12. 3 stars.

Not as cute as the first book in the series. This one had an Importance of being Earnest theme that annoyed me. But it was still kind of cute.

Silver Shadows (Bloodlines, #5)

Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5) by Richelle Meade. Read August 2-13. 3 stars.

It took me until the final chapters to really get into this book. Most of the book was a 2 star read for me, until *SPOILER* Adrian and Sydney were reunited and they got married!

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie Perkins. Read August 14-15. 3 stars.

In most ways this book was just as adorable as the rest of the series. However, it was also pretty heavy on the over dramatic. I thought Isla and Josh’s relationship was a little too intense for their level of maturity. Their problems were all self-inflicted, but I like that it led both of them to learn more about themselves and for Isla especially to learn to accept herself and realize how hard she is on herself. The cameos of the other couples in the series was way too short, though there was a nice moment for Anna and St. Claire. Overall, it was a cute book for sure, but not my favorite of the series.

Four: A Divergent Story Collection (Divergent, #0.1 - 0.4)

Four: A Divergent Story Collection by Veronica Roth. Read August 14-17. 1 star.

I was hoping that this book would in some small way make up for Allegiant. Or make me fall for Four again. It did not. *Sigh*    



Ruins (Partials Sequence, #3)

Ruins (Partials Sequence #3) by Dan Wells. Got it once again from the library and it expired before I got to it.

Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings

Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed by Michelle Knight. Whether you’re from Northeast Ohio, like me, or not, you’ve probably heard about Ariel Castro and how the 3 girls he kidnapped were finally freed last year. I don’t usually read much non-fiction, but since this story is so close to home, I wanted to read it. I didn’t get very far in this before I stopped. For one, I think it could use a lot more editing. The narrative sounded a little too childish and almost painful to read – not even taking into account the content. The second was this Note to Readers in the beginning of the book: In recounting the events in this memoir, chronologies have been compressed or altered and details have been changed to assist the narrative… Is this the norm for non-fiction books?? To me it almost sounds like the details of what happened are not going to be accurate. However, I still want to eventually read this.



Too Good to Be True

Too Good to be True by Kristan Higgins. After reading Forbidden, I needed something light and sweet to read. Kristan Higgins always does the trick.

Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma


Synopsis from Good Reads:

She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

So this was not a happy book. In fact, the description above states, “…a love this devastating has no happy ending.” So that’s not exactly a spoiler. If you are fan of books that exist just to make you feel and you want to feel bad, then this book is for you. However, while it did make me feel bad, I just didn’t find it done quite well enough to make it worth my time.

Lochan and Maya are the oldest of five siblings who have long been taking care of themselves and the others. Their father has left and their mother is an increasingly absent alcoholic. Lochan has some serious issues. He has super severe social anxiety, panic attacks, and is prone to violent outbursts. He shoulders the family’s responsibility and feels heavy guilt for their situation. He is depressed and lonely and the only time he ever feels any peace or happiness is around his sister, Maya. She’s always seemed more like a partner and friend than a little sister. So, I can see why he might fall in love with her.

I don’t, however, find it plausible that Maya would fall in love with him. She has friends at school and while she helps Lochan care for the family, her anxiety is not much more than the average person would be in the same situation. It would make more sense for her character to be a party girl or go after older men. But, she’s a quite sensible teenager and just happens to fall in love with her best friend, her brother.

This taboo relationship is supposed to be what makes this book so hype-able. Mostly I just found it boring. I did not root for their relationship. I was not brokenhearted for their precarious situation. I felt bad for them. I felt bad for their father leaving and the abuse from their mother and their unconventional childhood. I feel bad for them that they think having an incestuous relationship is a viable option. But I just didn’t really care enough about the characters to feel emotionally crippled by it.

The only place the book really worked for me was with Lochan. He really is a tragic character. I wish the book would’ve ended with him getting some closely monitored care for his mental health issues. His panic attacks and thought processes were well written and descriptive. He’s the only one in the book I felt any sort of emotional connection with.

Overall, I just did not care for this book. I don’t think it’s a “must read.” Some people may love it. Some people might think that writing about incest is “brave” and give it a better review. For the most part, I just found the book boring and almost didn’t finish it. I feel like if the characterization of Maya would have been as well done as Lochan, I might have bought more into their relationship and feel more badly for the repercussions. However, it was just a book that made me a little sad.

Rating (out of 5):
Plot: 1.5
Characters: 3 (mostly for Lochan!)
Readability: 2
Enjoyability: 1.5
Overall Rating: 2 stars

WWW Wednesday


WWW Wednesday is a feature from Should Be Reading that asks:

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?



Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. There’s so much hype about this book, so I decided it was finally time to read it. I haven’t gotten to the forbidden part of the story yet.


One Plus One

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. I Loved it! You can read my review for it here, but it totally doesn’t do it justice.


Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle, #1)

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins. This book has finally come available at my library. I’m excited to get to it!

Review: One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One Plus One

Synopsis from Good Reads:

One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

I loved this book! I just loved it. Jojo Moyes has become one of my Must-Read authors and she did definitely not disappoint with One Plus One.

Jess is a young single mother, working multiple jobs to just barely pay the bills. Despite all the hardships in her life, she does the best to always look on the bright side of things and is determined that things will all work out. Ed is a rich software developer with poor relationship skills that has led to him being investigated for insider trading. When their paths cross while Jess is at her lowest point, Ed uncharacteristically offers himself as the solution. Thus starts a multi-day road trip with Jess’s two very different children to get to a math Olympiad that could change their lives forever.

I’m a huge fan of character driven novels and Moyes really excels at that. All the characters in this book were well developed and grew leaps and bounds throughout. Though told in 3rd person POV, each chapter is dedicated to one of the characters’ perspective – Ed, Jess, Nicky, or Tanzie. I honestly loved all of them. Though I got sometimes frustrated with Jess or Ed, I really found them all to be likable characters that you can’t help rooting for.

I loved the way Jess and Ed’s relationship developed and how the romance is subtle and almost takes a backseat to the rest of the story. I loved watching Nicky come out of his shell and start to accept himself for who he is. I really loved Tanzie, how wise beyond her years she is, but also still very much a ten year-old girl. And I also loved Norman, their big, lazy, loyal dog.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. This little review does not do it justice. I would definitely recommend One Plus One to fans of Moyes and character-driven books. Though I got this at the library, I liked it so much that I think I’ll end up buying a copy to keep.

Rating (out of 5):
Plot: 3.5
Characters: 4.5
Readability: 4
Enjoyability: 4.5
Overall Rating: 4.125 stars




Sneaky ARC!

Haha! All. The. Time.

I love ARCs! I love NetGalley! I love being approved for the ARCs that I actually want! I recently got approved for a book that I’ve been dying for! I can’t even tell you how happy I was!

I downloaded the PDF to my Nook. It told me it was 432 pages. I was loving every page of it, really getting into the story and then it JUST ENDED at page 282. The rest of those pages were the novellas of the series. Since this was a PDF, there was no Table of Contents so I did not know this was coming. WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THIS WAS COMING?

I was not mentally or emotionally prepared to read the last page of this beloved series.

Has this ever happened to you? How do you cope?!?


Review: The Real Thing by Cassie Mae

The Real Thing

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.

When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

I’ve read two Cassie Mae books before and thought one was pretty cute (Switched!) and one was pretty ridiculous (we don’t need to get into that one). When I saw this book I wanted to give her another try since I enjoy the best-friend-becomes-more trope, if done properly. I’m pleased to say that I did really enjoy The Real Thing.

Before this book I read another one that also employed the best-friend-becomes-more trope and it didn’t really at all work for me. I think one of the biggest differences between the previous book and this book (where it does works) is that in The Real Thing Eric and Mia are friends that have an attraction for the other, where the previous couple were friends that were already in love, but not admitting it to each other. And even though we know Eric and Mia will end up together, there’s still a lot more build up and tension in their relationship throughout the story.

I also enjoyed the bit of role reversal that deviates from the usual NA. Mia is confident and knows what she wants. She’s neither trampy nor innocent. That’s not to say she isn’t without her problems. She’s addicted to the internet and her phone to an unhealthy degree. While I thought this was a bit over the top, I’m sure there are many people out there that could totally relate to that.

My phone died so I spent some time with the family today. They seem like nice people.

Then there’s Eric. He’s insecure about his weight, has anxiety attacks, and doesn’t like to be touched. I can not even tell you how much I related to him! I thought Mae did a great job of realistically portraying what it’s like to live with anxiety. I also think she handled the treatment of it much better than most books that have anxiety prone characters. Eric has coping techniques, family support, therapy, and medication.

My only real complaint with the book is all the sexual content, though it seems to be a requirement for the NA genre. Mia seemed way more interested in moving their relationship ahead physically than in really getting to know Eric. I get that they’re best friends and know a lot about each other, but they’ve been apart for three years and there’s obviously a lot more they need to find out about each other. It was, however, not as graphic as a lot of other books of this genre are.

Overall, I enjoyed The Real Thing. The characters were mostly very relatable and likable. I especially appreciated the way Eric’s anxiety was portrayed and handled. I would recommend this book to fans of NA, especially to those who are looking for something a little different than the normal NA plotlines.

Rating (out of 5):
Plot: 3.5
Characters: 3.5
Readability: 3.5
Enjoyability: 4
Overall Rating: 3.625 Stars

Review: All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself her is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

On paper this book seemed like it would be right up my alley. The best friends becoming more than friends trope. Reality tv competition. Cupcakes. All the ingredients (pun intended) were there. Unfortunately, it just didn’t quite live up to its potential.

Lucas and Kat are best friends that are secretly in love. A good portion of the book is spent with each of their POVs pining for the other and debating whether or not to express their feelings, for fear of them not being returned. I feel like this might have been ok if we were only given one POV and we had to guess at the other’s feelings, but getting both POVs and finding out right off the bat that they both feel the same took away a lot of the tension. It was also very redundant, hearing the same thing again and again.

I also had a hard time rooting for them as a couple. While Lucas had some sweet moments in the beginning, I spent most of the book thinking he was a big jerk. He was selfish and condescending and sometimes childish. He also used way too many football metaphors. It got kind of ridiculous.

On the other hand, I did find Kat to be a likable and relatable character. She had her moments of whininess, but for the most part I found her insecurities realistic and enjoyed seeing her grow more confident throughout the story.

What was easily the most interesting part of the story was Cupcake Combat, the reality competition Kat enters. Unfortunately, a lot of the competition was skipped over, or spent with Kat or Lucas’s inner monologues about their pining for the other instead of focused on the game.

Overall, All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes was an ok read. While there was an overall message of self-acceptance and trusting in God’s plan for your life, it was overwhelmed with repetitive romantic whining and longing. It had some enjoyable moments, but didn’t quite live up to it’s potential.

Rating (out of 5):
Plot: 2.5
Characters: 2
Readability: 2.5
Enjoyability: 2
Overall Rating: 2.25 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Books People Have Been Telling Me That I MUST Read


So I’m doing a Top Ten Wednesday instead of Tuesday this week. It doesn’t have quite the same ring, but it will do. This week’s topic, brought to us by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling You That You MUST Read. I don’t have lots of bookish people in my non-blog life, so mine will be not so much recommended specifically to me, but books I feel the blogosphere insists upon.

Open Road Summer

1.  Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. This one was actually recommended to me on Twitter when I asked for a good contemporary. I’m currently on the waiting list at the library.

Say What You Will

2. Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern. I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews on it, but a blogger friend recommended this to me, so it’s on my list!

Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle, #1)

3. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins. Everyone seems to love this book.

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)

4. If I Stay by Gayle Foreman. Especially now that the movie is coming out, you can not get away from this book.

Maybe Someday

5. Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover. I feel like everyone everywhere loves Colleen Hoover and I have yet to read anything by her.

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)

6. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski. Another book with nothing but glowing reviews.

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)

7. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. Everybody says this series is better than the Mortal Instruments so I always meant to read it. But now that City of Heavenly Fire has spoiled some major things for me, I’m not in such a hurry to read it.

This is What Happy Looks Like

8. This is What Happy Looks Like – or Any other Jennifer E. Smith book. Another beloved author I’ve never read.

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)

9. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas. I really did not like the first book in this series AT ALL. But everyone seems to love this series so much. Maybe it gets way better?

Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow, #1)

10. Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden. You can’t read Tash’s review and not want to read this! (Click on the review link for a chance to win a free ecopy of this book!)

Guest Review and Giveaway: Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

Welcome to my first Guest Review! Today I have Tash Leary, staff member of  (a Hunger Games fan site), reviewing Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden, which we will be giving away an ebook copy of!

Tash holds a Bachelor’s Degrees in Business (Marketing) and Computing and currently works in communications and media. She has been involved in fansites since 2002 and was the owner of the hugely popular Kath and Kim (Australian version) fansite (since disbanded after the show’s run ended), which regularly received more visitors than the show’s official website. Aside from The Hunger Games her fandom interests include Game of Thrones, Divergent and anything gaming-related.

Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow, #1)


A literary legend in Australia, Tomorrow When the War Began (TWTWB) is the first book in a series of 7 (10 if you include the follow-on trilogy ‘The Ellie Chronicles’). First published in 1993, the series has received critical acclaim worldwide and is included in the curriculum of schools across the country. It continues to enthrall new generations of readers and is currently having resurgence in popularity due to comparisons with new-age young adult fiction such as ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’.

TWTWB follows the story of Ellie Linton, a rural Australian teenager from the fictional town of Wirrawee. Keen to spend some time away from the restrictions of adults, Ellie organises a camping trip to ‘Hell’, a remote area set into a local mountain range, with her best friend Corrie. Together they put together a group of friends to make the trip with them: Homer, Ellie’s best mate, next door neighbour and general troublemaker; Kevin, farm boy and Corrie’s boyfriend; Robyn, who is religious, sporty and ultra-competitive; Fiona (Fi), the intelligent, social ‘townie’; and Lee, the quiet, talented musician who intrigues Ellie.

After enjoying the adventure of a lifetime it’s time to return to civilisation however, the teen’s world is soon turned upside down when they return to find homes abandoned and livestock dead. This leads to the terrifying discovery that the country has been invaded, and after a suspense-filled trek into Wirrawee the group resolves to fight the invasion forces (who are never given a nationality). From here on the book becomes a rollercoaster ride, with loads of tension and emotionally charged moments as you constantly wonder how long the group can survive against the odds.

TWTWB certainly doesn’t skimp on the action, with plenty of firefights, explosions and even a wild car chase through the streets of Wirrawee. The group consistently comes up with ingenious and highly improvised ideas and methods to take the fight to the soldiers, including setting a lawn mower on fire, as they establish a hideout at ‘Hell’. They’re far from gung-ho though, and the book explores the choices involved with the conflict, particularly when it comes to killing.

The books strongest point though is its narration of the story. Ellie explains early in the book that she has been nominated to write down a record of their actions and lives, which is a neat touch by the author John Marsden as it peaks your interest from the get-go. Ellie’s narration really makes you feel as if you are another member of their guerrilla group and keeps the story grounded in terms of her experiences as she narrates growing up with all the usual teenage dramas (particularly relationships!) amidst the backdrop of war. The story is littered with her humour and sarcasm, giving it a real personality and ensuring each character is relatable. For instance after one dangerous excursion Ellie takes the time to make a joke about being responsible for the wheelies left on the golf course!

As the beginning of a seven-part series, TWTWB does a great job of investing the reader in the characters as well as setting up an intriguing journey for them. Marsden likes to put the reader on the edge of their seat and with plenty of action and drama it’s easy to keep turning the pages to find out what will happen next. If you’ve been searching for a new YA ‘fix’ then TWTWB will be right up your alley.


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