BOOK REVIEW: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century – by Rachel Harris

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Title: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century
(My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #1)
Author: Rachel Harris
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Time Travel
First published: September 11th 2012
Finished reading: December 12th 2015
Pages: 264
Rating 2,5qqq

“I’m supposed to learn something. A lesson, like in some teenybopper show. I stare at the door and wait for Miley Cyrus to come barreling in, singing tunelessly about our pasts being the key to our futures.”

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I have to admit I only picked up a copy of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century because I needed a book set in the sixteenth century to complete a challenge. I like time travel books in general, but this first novel of a series just sounded too much like a romance/chick lit story to my taste. While this novel by Rachel Harris turned out to be slightly better than expected, I still cannot say I have actually enjoyed reading it. The setting in sixteenth century Italy is without doubt interesting and I liked how the author tried to demostrate the clashes between two different eras in the prose. Still, I can’t say I actually liked the characters OR the way they behaved in general. A mayor part of the plot and characters was either cliche or not really original. Also, the prose felt almost forced-funny at points… It was quite a quick read and I suppose it will work perfectly as a beach read as long as you are not expecting too much. Personally, I wouldn’t actually continue this series though.

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Cat Crawford doesn’t enjoy being in the spotlights as her mother and her bubbly stepmother do, but somehow they are going to throw and extravagant gala for her sixteenth birthday. Cat is desperate to find a way to stop the gala, and even forced her father to go on a trip to Florence, Italy as a peace offering. Her mother is Italian, and Cat is excited to be discovering more about her past. But when she enters an unusual gypsy tent, she suddenly comes really close to her ancestors. When she exits the tent, she walks right into Renaissance Firenze. She still has her backpack full of future gadgets, but is forced to live the life of a sixteenth century teenager… Complete with new relatives and a gorgeous teenage artist to distract her. Will she be able to learn the lessons she needs to learn and find her way back to the future?

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The summary of this novel sounds quite interesting, but after seeing the cover and some of the reviews I was already expecting My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century wouldn’t be for me. Why did I pick it up, would you say? I had trouble finding another title set in the sixteenth century, so I was keeping my fingers crossed this one wouldn’t be that bad. All in all this novel isn’t horrible and I give it the benefit of the doubt, but it’s not exactly a great read either. The prose, characters and plot all lack that extra something that makes a story into something really good.

BOOK REVIEW: November 9 – by Colleen Hoover

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Title: November 9
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
First published: November 10th 2015
Finished reading: December 10th 2015
Pages: 320
Rating 5qqq

“When you find love, you take it. You grab it with both hands and you do everything in your power not to let it go. You can’t just walk away from it and expect it to linger until you’re ready for it.”

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Those who follow my blog already know I’m not a big romance fan and I normally tend to stay away from the genre. But since I was in a increasing reading slump at the time I picked up this novel, I tried beating it with by stepping out of my comfort zone. And Colleen Hoover‘s magic worked! I already knew her work was good since people kept recommending it to me and I really enjoyed her writing style in the novellas Never Never Part One and Two. But November 9 is simply brilliant. The character development is perfectly done and I absolutely LOVED the prose. Trust me, romance is really not my thing, but Colleen Hoover was able to even make the romance scenes entertaining for me. And that dirty book talk: YES!!! I think every book blogger will be able to connect to a story after seeing the vocabulary used:

“Don’t stop” I tease in a seductive voice. ” Give me more, Ben. Did you read eBooks or…” I run my finger slowly down his chest.”Hardbacks?”
He pulls his hands behind his head and a smug look washes over his face. “Oh, they were hardbacks, all right. And I’m not sure if you’re ready for this, but…I have my own TBR pile. You should read it, Fallon. It’s huge.

Yes, this is a sexy scene and it didn’t even bother me because of the book talk. A miracle! A minor flaw is that part of the plot and plot twists is not that original, but to be honest I just didn’t care. Colleen Hoover has personally proven to me I can enjoy a genre I normally don’t like and I will definitely start reading more of her work soon!

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When Fallon meets her father for lunch before she travels to New York the next day to start a new life, a stranger steps in when her father keeps talking down on her. Ben, an aspiring novelist, poses as her boyfriend and gives him a lesson. After Fallon’s father leaves the restaurant, Ben also convinces Fallon to spend the day with him. They both know it’s Fallon’s last day in L.A. and Fallon doesn’t want to fall in love until she is 23… Still, it soon shows that they are attracted to each other even though they have just met. Both decide to not give up their individual dreams and agree to meet each other exactly one year from now in the same restaurant they first met. November 9 is now their new tradition, where the two will meet again each year even without having exchanged phone numbers or email. Will they be able to put their feelings on hold for this long? And will they be able to meet again and again until Fallon feels old enough to have a relationship?

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I loved the plot, the character development of the main characters and especially the prose. Colleen Hoover has a way of writing that simply sucks you into the story and makes you forget all around you. November 9 is entertaining, well written and has just the right dose of humor, drama and romance. Before saying no to this novel, remember that I normally don’t like romance either! Colleen Hoover is a welcome exception and I thank her for letting me enjoy yet another genre.

BOOK REVIEW: Paperweight – by Meg Haston

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Title: Paperweight
Author: Meg Haston
Genre: YA. Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: July 7th 2015
Finished reading: December 7th 2015
Pages: 304
Rating 4qqq

“The thing was, I needed to be owned. I needed someone to say, This girl is mine. That´s what family is for, but mine was almost gone. There was no one to claim me but Eden and my sickness. So I gave myself to both.”

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Paperweight has been recommended to me various times in the past and I think I have seen only positive reviews so far. The story without doubt isn’t a happy one, but I can totally agree that Meg Haston is able to make the main characters’ fight with an eating disorder feel really realistic. I’m still not sure if I actually liked the main character Stevie or some of the other patients at the eating disorder treatment center for that matter, but I wasn’t that bothered by it because they felt real. The plot is interesting with a few plot twists and the character development is really well done. The pace is quite fast and I enjoyed the prose even though it is actually quite a difficult story to read because of the theme. Still, I would not doubt in recommending this book if you enjoy reading realistic contemporary fiction and don’t mind reading about mental ilness/eating disorders. I haven’t read many books about the theme nor do I know anyone with an eating disorder, but I still think Meg Haston did more than a good job describing the emotions and struggle of the patients.

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Stevie has been struggling with her life and body ever since her mother left; she feels both trapped inside her body and in life. After her brother Josh died she made a promise to herself not to live past the first anniversary of his death… Slowly starving herself to end her life. Her father forces Stevie to go to an eating disorder treatment center tucked away in the New Mexico desert. Stevie doesn’t want to cooperate with the nurses and therapists because she feels they are messing up her promise to her dead brother, but someone always seem to be watching her and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid. She is supposed to stay for a minimum of sixty days of treatment, but Stevie isn’t planning on holding on more than the twenty-seven days that separate her from the anniversary of Josh’s death… Will the nurses and therapists be able to change her mind on time?

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Paperweight is full of emotions and very realistic. It’s not the easiest book to read because of the theme, but it is very well written and definitely leaves you thinking about what a horrible disease an eating disorder really is. I will definitely look out for any future Meg Haston YA novels! More that recommended if you like the genre and want to read about how an eating disorder can affect someone’s life.

BOOK REVIEW: Takeover – by Lisa Black

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Title: Takeover
(Theresa MacLean #1)
Author: Lisa Black
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 12th 2008
Finished reading: December 3rd 2015
Pages: 341
Rating 1,5qqq

“Love has to be balanced,” she said as they reached the reception desk, “with being a human being. You can’t trulydo one without being the other.”

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I keep telling myself that I’m not reading enough mystery/thriller books, so I tried reading Takeover by Lisa Black to help me get out of my reading slump. It didn’t work. Not only does the plot lacks imagination and the pace is dreadfully slow, but the story itself is just plain boring. The whole my-fiancé-who-is-a-cop-ends-up-being-a-hostage-in-a-bank-robbery plot has simply been used too many times to be interesting and it didn’t really help that I couldn’t connect to the characters either. Sure, Lisa Black tried to incorporate a few plot twists into the novel, but I could already guess who was really helping the bankrobbers very early on in the story… NOT GOOD! On top of that, the pace was so slow that it surprised me that I actually ended up finishing this read. I always hate handing out low ratings, especially to books belonging to one of my favorite genres, but I know I wouldn’t forgive myself if I lied about my feelings. At least I can cross Theresa Maclean off the list of series I will have to finish one day…

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When Theresa MacLean is called to the scene of a murder in the suburban Cleveland, she doesn’t know her day is about to get a whole lot worse. Not only does she have to find out who bashed in the back of the skull of the man they found, she will also have to face a more difficult situation when her fiancé ends up taken hostage in a bank robbery. Theresa’s fiancé is a police detective and when he goes to the Federal Reserve Bank where the victim and his wife work, two criminals enter right after him and take the undercover cop hostage along with six others. One of the best hostage negotiators, Chris Cavanaugh, has been brought in to get everbody out safely, but the bank robbers do not seem to act like normal criminals… And Theresa is not sure she will ever see her future husband again. Will they be able to end the hostage situation without spilling any blood?

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The blurb, while not original, sounds quite interesting, which made me pick up my copy of Takeover in the first place. Unfortunately, this novel turned out nothing but a disappointment. This story is slow paced, has a weak plot and is simply boring in general. In fact, I’m still not sure why I actually finished it… The mystery/thriller genre is one of my favorites, but this book just didn’t do it for me. As you might have guessed already, I definitely wouldn’t recommend this novel.

ARC REVIEW: Melophobia – by James Morris

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Title: Melophobia
Author: James Morris
Genre: Mystery, Dystopia, Music
First published: September 22nd 2015
Finished reading: December 1st 2015
Pages: 265
Rating 4qqq

“She could see how easily someone could succumb to the hex music weaved over them, the temptation to lose oneself within the hypnotic trance-like beats. No thoughts of the future, or the past, only the immediate present, as if life itself had condensed into a single moment.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I couldn’t imagine myself living in a world without music and I always enjoy a good dystopian novel, so when I was approached to read and review Melophobia I was immediately intrigued. This is the second time I’ve read James Morris‘ work this year and I really enjoyed both novels. Melophobia has an interesting plot and the worldbuilding is very well done. The fact that music is forbidden in this world and that the government is trying to control everyone reminded me of dystopian classics like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, which is a huge compliment since both are among my favorite classics. The characters are interesting and I really appreciated the development in the main character Merrin. One minor drawback: the love triangle between Merrin, Anders and Rowan. It didn’t add anything substantial to the plot and part of their relationship seemed a bit forced. I personally felt the story could have worked perfectly fine with Anders just being Merrin’s best friend… But aside from that, I more than enjoyed this dystopian story and I would definitely recommend it if you like the genre.

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America in an alternate present, a world where the government controls all forms of art and creativity including music. Almost all music is banned and destroyed when found, both creators and listeners reeducated when arrested. Only Musak can be listened to, a government approved background tune that doesn’t make people feel rebellious. Merrin Pierce is the daughter of the Minister of Broadcast Standards and works as an undercover Patrol officer. Her assignment is to infiltrate the music scene and arrest any musician and fan she can find… But when she is asked to stop the government’s biggest treat so far, the Source, she discovers things about herself and her past she is not sure how to deal with. Was her past just a lie? And is music really that dangerous?

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Melophobia means fear or hatred for music, and this concept is used perfectly in this novel. The story is set in an alternate present where music is forbidden and the government suppresses and reeducates those who want to have music in their lives anyway. The plot is interesting and the story is well written, making Melophobia in a very entertaining dystopian read. The music angle is really refreshing as well!

BOOK REVIEW: Liars, Inc. – by Paula Stokes

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Title: Liars, Inc.
Author: Paula Stokes
Genre: YA, Mystery, Contemporary
First published: March 24th 2015
Finished reading: November 29th 2015
Pages: 362
Rating 3qqq

“The truth doesn’t get you very far on the streets, or in a group home, or even in high school. That’s probably why the idea of Liars, Inc. appealed to me. Everybody lies. You might as well get paid for it.”

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l’ve had Liars, Inc. on my TBR for a long time. I have seen a lot of mixed reviews about it and that made me quite wary of actually picking it up. This novel by Paula Stokes has been compared to Gone Girl, most likely because of the unreliable narrator, crazy plot twists and the whole hype around it… Unfortunately, as with Gone Girl I don’t think Liars, Inc. is actually worth the hype. Sure, it is quite an entertaining read and the plot twists are almost always unexpected, but it lacked the wow factor for me. I wasn’t fully convinced with the main characters and they are not exactly likeable either, but that is part of the problem with an unreliable narrator in general anyway. The pace is fast and it was quite a quick read with a few surprising moments and crazy plot twists. So I guess that if you don’t mind unlikeable characters and don’t set your expectations too high, you will probably quite enjoy this read.

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Max Cantrell doesn’t really believe in the truth and has no problem with lying to get what he wants. When he covers for one of the popular girls in order to get the detention he wants so he can be with his girlfriend Parvati, an opportunity arises. His fellow students apparently are in need of forged permission slips and cover stories, and who is he to deny those to them? Together with his friend Preston and girlfriend Parvati, they start Liars, Inc. with the idea to make a little extra money and liven up their senior year. But soon they have almost more work than they can handle and money starts pouring in. So when Preston asks Max to cover for him so he can visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice. Everything seems to work out perfectly, until Preston never comes home… And soon evidence starts piling up that implicates Max as the possible murderer of his friend. Will he be able to find the real killer and clear his name before it’s too late? This time, lies will get him only into more trouble…

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While I didn’t feel Liars, Inc. was that good, I can’t deny that it’s quite an entertaining story in general. It’s a quick read and the plot twists are unpredictable enough to keep you guessing what is really going on. I wasn’t a fan of the characters; they were actually quite annoying and unlikeable, but I guess Paula Stokes did do a good job of using the unreliable narrator technique. I had a hard time rating this novel, but I think that if you liked other stories using the same technique (like Gone Girl), you will most likely enjoy Liars, Inc. as well.

BOOK REVIEW: Love And Other Foreign Words – by Erin McCahan

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Title: Love And Other Foreign Words
Author: Erin McCahan
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 1st 2014
Finished reading: November 25th 2015
Pages: 336
Rating 1,5qqq

“In someone else’s language, you become a visitor, a guest – sometimes a very welcome guest received with shrieks and hugs – but still always a guest. Because as soon as you stop speaking the native language of the group, you stop being one of the group. And then you’re just alone, no matter who you’re with.”

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I’m not sure if it’s because I misread the blurb, because I actually studied sociolinguistics back in Uni or because it’s simply that bad, but I was more than disappointed by Love And Other Foreign Words. I was especting a story a story about two people not understanding each other because they speak a different language, not what should be called social dialect or sociolect. I thought I would be able to connect to this story since my hubby is Argentinian and Spanish is not my native language, but I was in for an unpleasant surprise. Not only did the many erroneous sociolinguistics references bother me, I was really annoyed by the characters in general. Josie, Kate, Geoff… I’m not sure which of the three wins the prize for most irritating character, because they were all equally frustrating. I even almost came to the point to DNF this novel by Erin McCahan, which doesn’t happen often… And I only made it to the end because I let myself skim through the last hundred pages or so. Sure, the prose is easy to read and the pace is fast, but the humor felt forced and the characters are simply unbearable. You can probably already guess I wouldn’t recommend reading Love And Other Foreign Words

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Josie and her best friend Stu are gifted and not even Stu seems to fully understand her when she speaks ‘Josie’. She lives her life in translation, switching between High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Family and other social groups. Josie feels most comfortable with Stu and her sister Kate, but everything seems to change when Kate gets engaged to a guy that according to Josie is all wrong for Kate. She and Geoff are off to a rough start and Josie is determined to stop the wedding. Kate on the other hand is determined to prove Geoff is the one and wants Josie to change her look to to fit in with the other bridesmaids. Their discussions turn into battles and both want to win… Will Josie be able to find out what the real meaning of love is as well as sort out her own feelings?

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The work of Erin McCahan has been compared to John Green and Rainbow Rowell, but honestly I don’t see other similarities than all three authors writing (mostly) YA contemporary novels. The prose and character development Love And Other Foreign Words is nowhere close to the same level as the novels of the authors mentioned above. The main characters were simply unbearable and I came really close to just DNFing it. Josie has a horrid character and the way Kate and Geoff treated her was just despicable. I don’t like handing out low ratings, but I just couldn’t get myself to give this novel a higher rating. If you ask me, stay away from this one; there are so many great YA contemporary novels out there in the first place…