Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Review: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Publication date: 13th November, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Links: Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/ 5 stars
[from goodreads]

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown        from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

I knew I was meant to read Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill the minute I saw it on Goodreads. Everything about it sounded so CUTE: the cover, the plot and the characters... How can you not want to read about a possible love-hate relationship, a mystery man and childhood crush, all on a school trip to London? Especially when it's all happening to Julia, the most unlikely candidate for boy drama!

Julia, an accident-prone word lover and stringent follower of rules, is pretty much on her own on her school trip to London. Her best friend, Phoebe, couldn't make it to the trip and the rest of her classmates on the trip are not her type at all. They spend most of their "cultural hours" shopping than doing anything else. When Julia is partnered with Jason, the class clown, she's sure Jason is going to ruin the trip for her... as he's the kind of person who manages to turn everything into a joke. 

But surprise, surprise... there's so much more to Jason, who after way too many deals, promises to help Julia find the identity of the person who's been sending her romantic texts. There's secret identities, secret admirers and numerous mishaps gone right in this book as Julia realises that her search for her MTB (meant-to-be) ended sooner than she thought it did. 

Being an accident-prone word lover who takes too few risks myself, I enjoyed living vicariously through Julia as she experiences the adventure of a lifetime! There no one who could've shaken her up and gotten her to live more than Jason Lippincott (how I love that name!) who I looved from their very first interaction at the beginning of the trip. I've become seriously immune to bad boys in Young Adult fiction, making Jason's goofy I-don't-even-take-myself-seriously charm even more authentic and swoon-worthy!  

There's also so much of LONDON in this book... whether it's the street culture, quest for the perfect fish 'n chips, Beatles covers and the Stratford-upon-Avon trip... I loved how I felt just a page away from experiencing everything.

Sure, there was a point in the book when it felt like there were way too many boys in Julia's life and the boy-related confusion got a bit too much, especially when Julia's childhood crush, Max Bixford, makes an appearance... but the issue didn't stick for long. It was just way too much fun... there was hardly a character I didn't like (though Max Bixford comes close)! Even Mrs. Tennison, who was in charge of the trip and is constantly confiscating phones and handing out punishment essays, was too amusing to be unlikable. And what more, there's a twist at the end that genuinely took me by surprise!

If you haven't found a fun, goofy, sweet and genuinely cutesy read since Anna and the French Kiss (I know I haven't), you have got to read Meant to Be. It's everything the blurb promises to be and more! 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, 12 November 2012

Review: The Girl Most Likely (Rachel Hill #2) by Rebecca Sparrow

"When you were 17, what did you think your life would be like when you hit 27?"

At 17, Rachel Hill was the girl most likely to succeed. At 27, with an Honours degree and a career as a travel writer, she wonders if marriage is the only thing missing from this perfect trifecta. But one disastrous life decision changes everything. Suddenly she is living back at home in her childhood bedroom - a room still celebrating 1987.  She's also working as a nanny for a surly six-year-old, proof-reading erotic fiction and crucifying movie themes on the piano. With Su-su-sudio in the cassette deck, Rachel tumbles head first into a quarter-life crisis. As she revisits her idea of perfection, she finds that happiness is living the life you want to live, rather than the one you're expected to.
It's been a while since I've been regular on the blog and I really, really miss it. I've been reading as much as I did all year... nothing can stop me from pouncing on a book and I've read some truly amazing books in the past month. It's been the kind of month when I've had days when I have been sleeping a lot (the so-called study holidays) and these other days when there are bags under my eyes and I would nod off if it weren't for the endless supply of Coca Cola and Dairy Milk (end-Semester exam week).

I curled up with The Girl Most Likely by Rebecca Sparrow on a rainy day, wanting, more than anything, to take a break from real life. I couldn't have asked for a better comfort read. I had already met seventeen year old Rachel Hill in The Year Nick McGowan Came to Stay (my review) (can you believe that TYNGCTS was written after The Girl Most Likely? Meaning, technically, I'd read this one out of order) almost a year back. Which made it hard to believe twenty-seven-year-old-Rachel's state of affairs.

Twenty-seven-year-old Rachel Hill is seventeen year old Prefect Rachel gone wrong. A failed marriage causes her to spiral out of control as she quits her job as an editor in a prestigious travel magazine, is house sitting for her parents and spends her days eating too many cartons of Froot Loops while babysitting a misunderstood six year old. Her desperate attempts to regain control over her life and retain perfection go hilariously wrong... in a foot-in-the-mouth, self esteem depending on her ability to master a movie theme song on the piano kind of way. And it feels like everything is falling apart...

...when really, it isn't.

And that, really, is the core of why I loved The Girl Most Likely so much.

Rachel Hill is all grown up... there is no doubt about that. Of course it was simpler when she was seventeen  year old Rachel, the Girl Most Likely to Succeed. And when her marriage that her parents had no idea about fails, she can automatically feel herself spiraling out of control... Girls like her weren't meant to be living at their parent's house and handling a divorce. Girls like her aren't supposed to veg out in front of the television, struggling to get through each day. She sees herself as a failure through her seventeen year old self's eyes and that itself feels like the biggest failure of all.

But as she gets acquainted with Matt, her neighbour who gives her piano lessons and her best friend Zoe is not one to leave her alone... Rachel realises that maybe it's not all about picture perfection. Maybe perfection is overrated. And the lengths at which the author goes to drive this point home makes it an amazing read.

I haven't laughed or cried as much in ages as I did while reading this book. Aside from learning so much from Rachel's quarter-life crisis... I loved how her journey felt so genuine, so heart wrenching that if I could, I would've wanted to be there for her. The fact that I read The Year Nick McGowan Came To Stay first, in which Rachel is all goody goody yet endearing, made me feel particularly empathetic and like I had truly known her for a long time.

Zoe Budd, Rachel's best friend, is as hilarious as she was in TYNMGCTS. I also think there's more to her in this book and I feel like overall, I know her better. Matt, the sexy neighbour next door, could not endear himself more to me and Alex, the six year old Rachel babysits, was tough and interesting. I could understand how Rachel wanted Alex to like her... especially when Alex made it really difficult.

This is the perfect book to read if you are going through any sort of a meltdown or even if you just want to have some fun. You're going to laugh your heart out, introspect and sob like a baby before bursting into helpless giggles again. You're not going to want to leave these characters... as they are made of awesome. What can I say... like TYNMGCTS, The Girl Most Likely gave me the warm-fuzzies and urged me to look beyond perfection and just enjoy the journey!

Final note: Another Aussie gem that was plain b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l! I'd strongly advise reading The Year Nick McGowan Came to Stay before this one, though!
Publication date: 1st March, 2003
Publisher: University of Queensland Press, Australia
Links: Amazon| Goodreads | The Book Depository
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Blog tour: Excerpt and giveaway; ALIBI: The Complete Series

Click on the banner to check out the other tour stops!
Publication date: 29th February, 2012
Publisher: Twist Literary
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars [My review]
From goodreads
Abigail Shelton is dead.

Spring Valley's golden girl is found floating face-down in her boyfriend’s pool, hands bound behind her back, head bleeding, drugs and alcohol in her system. Her friends are the only suspects – and they all have reasons to want her dead. Everyone has an alibi, but no one is innocent. 
ALIBI is a 4-part young adult e-book series. Each one-hundred page installment reveals the perspective of a different character: the secret love, the nemesis, the boyfriend, the best friend. As their tales unfold, we learn that Abby is not as perfect as everyone believes, but she’s not the only one with secrets to hide. This page-turning tale of suspense, betrayal, murder, and lust will keep fans of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars up and reading well past curfew.
If you haven't picked up the ALIBI series yet... seriously, what are you waiting for? It's a fun, suspenseful, sexy and amazingly crafted series that you're not going to want to put down that easily! As a part of the ALIBI blog tour, I'm excited to feature an excerpt from Volume IV of the ALIBI series, which is in Rowan's perspective.

My thoughts about Rowan, as stated in my ALIBI: The Complete Series review:

Oh my god, Rowan. I hated this girl. I hated her in the other volumes and hated her even more when we were shown the events from her perspective. I got to know so much more about the other characters while seeing the events through Rowan's eyes. For one thing, there were parts conveniently omitted by one of the characters in the initial parts and Rowan's perspective made me get the full picture about this person.

Excerpt: Rowan 

Until Charles came along, all of high school, most especially the boys who went there, were well deserving of the intense disdain Rowan harbored for them. But on the first day of school there was a new student, a tall, disarming Australian who had a locker next to hers. He reached over her shoulder and pulled one of her books from her locker, while Rowan stood there dumbfounded by his boldness and his intense blue eyes.

“Social Networking and Sociology,” he read from the cover in his delectable accent. “That’s an interesting topic.”

Rowan could only stare. He was startlingly handsome. She wasn’t sure he was actually talking to her. He was flipping through the book, a thoughtful expression on his face.

“Yes, it’s really good,” she said quietly, her voice a little strangled by her surprise. “I’m reading it for a project I’m working on.”

“Is that a fact?” he said, seeming to be genuinely interested.

“Yeah, a new kind of social network,” she said cagily.

“What’s new about it?”

“Well, just because our online society affords us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves, even create new identities from thin air, that’s no reason why anyone should be able to pass that personality off as their ‘true’ self,” she said with air quotes. She’d never used air quotes before.

“Yeah,” he said. “Seriously, forget Facebook. Someone should invent a social networking site that makes it next to impossible for anyone to lie about themselves. Warts and all. That’s how it should be.”

“Exactly,” she said. “I’m actually working on an algorithm…”

The bell announcing the next class pealed down the hall, making her jump.

“I’m Charles, by the way.” He stuck out his big hand. “Looks like we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.”

“Rowan,” she said, shaking his hand and staring at him.

“Brilliant to meet you, Rowan,” he said with a big beautiful grin. “See you in a bit.” Then he jogged away from her down the hall, disappearing into a sea of kids. She just stood there, immobilized by the strange giddiness that bubbled inside her. The school year was off to an interesting start.

She rushed to her locker between classes, worried that she’d miss him. She tried to resist the strange sense of urgency she felt about Charles, but every time she approached their lockers and saw him there, she could feel the thump of her heart under her sternum.

“So,” she asked casually between fourth and fifth periods, “Did Mr. Wayne give his usual lecture about the overdependence on Freudian psychology?”

“Christ,” Charles said, giving her a gorgeous crooked grin and turning his beautiful blue eyes on her. “That man has an axe to grind with the good Doctor Freud, doesn’t he?”

Rowan laughed, feeling her face pull open with a smile. She couldn’t remember the last time she smiled like that. Maybe never. “Right? I mean, I do tend to favor Jung, but you can’t just totally discount Freud’s contributions to the development of modern psychology,” she said, pulling her statistics book from her locker.

“Jung’s all right,” he said. “I’ve just always had a problem buying the whole archetype construct, you know? Like it smacks of predetermination, which I just can’t get on board with.”

The bell announcing the next class period shrieked overhead. Charles leaned toward her and grinned again.

“To be continued, love,” he said with a wink. Then he was gone. Rowan stood at her locker, a dopey grin on her face. Love. She knew it was nothing more than a colloquialism. But he said love.

Can I say swoon along with Rowan?

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