Paris versus New York by Vahram Muratyan.

11821530Hardcover, 224 pages

Published January 31st 2012 by Penguin Books

A friendly visual match between two cities told by a lover of Paris wandering through New York. Details, clichés, contradictions: this way, please.

This is such a great book. It has lovely, simple yet effective graphics comparing Paris and New York. The author was born and grew up in Paris, but lived in New York too.

It’s fun and interesting to see the different cultures of these two great cities laid out visually. For example, the first one is a little expresso cup on a saucer for Paris and a giant take away americano for New York.

I didn’t get some of them, as I haven’t been to New York or Paris, but I still really enjoyed it. Paris versus New York is a wonderful little book to flick through when you have some spare time on your hands.

A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger.

12813860Hardcover, 304 pages

Published June 5th 2012 by Poppy

Whitley Johnson’s dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She’s just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée’s son? Whitley’s one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin’ great.

Worse, she totally doesn’t fit in with her dad’s perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn’t even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she’s ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn’t “do” friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn’t her stepbrother…at least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

Whitley is not a super likeable character, but you can definitely identify with her. She’s pretty much my opposite, but I was still able to identify with her, anyway. She’s believable, for sure.

Her dad has moved to Hamilton – which is the town from The Duff. Remember Harrison, Wesley’s gay friend? Well, he plays a big part in A Midsummer’s Nightmare. He is Whitley’s new friend. He invites Whitley to a party at his friend’s mansion pretty early on – straight away I had that horrible feeling that we were going to see Wesley and Bianca again. When you see a character from another book, and meet them from the new characters perspective (hopefully you get what I mean there), I either hate it or love it. In this case, I pretty much hated it. You see Wesley and Bianca for about a minute, in which you learn that they are still a happy couple, and then they are only mentioned in passing after that. I wish that they had only been mentioned, because seeing them again didn’t add anything to the story. I mean, you got to see that Wesley’s previous player ways are still in the past, but I didn’t particularly need the assurance. Plus, Whitley is kind of a bitch and I didn’t like the way she responds to Bianca.

The storyline is very similar to that of Carmen’s in Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Whitley’s father doesn’t tell her about his fiance or two children until she’s just about to meet them all. Plus, he moved without letting her know.

It’s a lot about family, I guess. Whitley has a warped relationship with her father – he’s been more like a brother since her parents divorced – and not much of a relationship with her mother either. Her mum is quite bitter and doesn’t seem to care about Whitley’s partying ways. She never says anything when Whitley comes home drunk or whatever.

I have complicated feelings about all of Kody Keplinger’s novels. When I start to read one, I have strong feelings of dislike towards them. But once I get into it, I seem to like them a lot more. One of the things I’ve noticed across the board is that the main characters friends always bug me. They don’t seem very real, you know? It’s like only one or a few aspects of their personality are shown, therefore making them a bit unbelievable and two dimensional. Maybe that’s just my opinion, but there you go.

I think that I may like this one the best out of all Kody Keplinger’s novels, but it’s difficult to be sure(!).

My rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads rating: 3.87/5

Legend of the Oceina Dragon by J.F. Jenkins.

10676662

Book One in The Dragon Saga.

Kindle Edition, 187 pages

First published February 21st 2011

Tai lives on a small island where water dragons fly overhead and there are priests who communicate with them. Every eight years, a sacrifice is made to one of the dragons. A pure young woman of their choosing will be presented to the dragon for, it is thought, consumption. The truth? Those dragons can turn into men, and the girl they choose becomes their bride.

Darien has been watching Tai from afar for years, hopelessly falling in love with her. Once they are married, Darien takes Tai to the mainland, far from her island home. She can never return, as everyone thinks she is dead, and the dragon’s secret must be kept hidden. Tai is unimpressed with being forced into a marriage with Darien, but promises to stick around – at least for a little while.

Darien’s father is the Great Dragon Lord of the Water, and seems to be grooming Darien to follow in the political ways, so Darien keeps having to leave his new bride to attend meetings with his father, much to his despair. Still, Tai seems to be thawing towards him. But what will it mean for the couple when the fire dragons threaten the water dragons?

This was such an amazing idea for a story, and there are so many cool aspects involved as you read it. The flaw, for me, is that it seemed kind of rushed and jumpy. Also, I wish that the world building had been more developed – Legend of the Oceina Dragon was set in modern times, which interested me, as the idea of a small island being protected by dragons with a whole dragon related religion just seems so opposite of modern. I wanted to explore that some more, but this book, at least, didn’t quite deliver.

Still, I feel like this series will get better as it goes on, so I am going to read some more and see how it goes.

My rating: 3/5

Goodreads rating: 3.67/5

Vampire Shift by Tim O’Rourke.

11824848Kiera Hudson Series One, Book One

Kindle Edition

Published June 6th 2011 by Ravenwoodgreys

Kiera is a twenty year old constable, literally just out of the academy. She’s just been offered a position in The Ragged Cove, with an extra yearly bonus and free lodging. Cops don’t seem to last very long at The Ragged Cove, but Kiera isn’t deterred. She’s a talented young constable with a talent for ‘seeing’ things – clues and stuff that other police officers usually don’t notice straight away.

Once at The Cove, Kiera learns about a string of horrific murders – twenty over the past three years – and even investigates one on her very first night. Her fellow workers seem callous and mocking, all except for the good looking Luke Bishop – who is the closest thing that Kiera has to a friend, even if he isn’t always reliable.

Everywhere Kiera goes in The Ragged Cove, there are strange references to vampires. The bar/hotel where she’s staying has garlic strung up everywhere and bottles of holy water and crucifixes for sale.  She doesn’t think much of it, but as weird things keep happening to her, she forced to start believing.

Vampire Shift is a nice quick read that is very fast paced. The plot has more twists than you can poke a stick at and there is a great, creepy atmosphere. The town seems to be cut off completely from the outside world.

The ‘romance’ is nothing to write home about, but there’s plenty of other stuff to make up for it. The characters are all very quirky and/or creepy and mysterious – everyone seems off at one point or another.

As for Kiera’s gift of ‘seeing’ things – it’s kind of like in Psych, the way Shaun Spencer notices everything and puts clues together really well. Only Kiera does it all at once without really noticing and isn’t dramatic about it like Shaun (how great is Psych, by the way? It’s one of my favourite shows). It’s sort of a supernatural power, really.

I will definitely continue reading this series.

My rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads Rating: 3.95/5

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger.

10757771Hardcover, 273 pages

Published September 5th 2011 by Poppy

At Lissa’s high school, the soccer and football teams have a massive rivalry going on. In autumn, it’s war! Often when Lissa and her quarterback boyfriend are having ‘couple time’, some idiot from the soccer team will attack and Lissa’s idiot boyfriend will go after them. She is sick of being second best to some stupid rivalry and assembles all the girlfriends together to hatch a devious plan – the girls will withhold sex (or whatever they happen to be giving their boyfriends) until the boys stop this little war! It starts out with just the footballers girlfriends, but soon the soccer player’s girlfriends join in too.

Soon the boys find out. For a while they don’t do much about it, but then the unattached and unattainable Cash, one of the star soccer players, smarts up and leads the boys properly – strategically trying the lure the girls back into their arms. It just so happens that Cash and Lissa have a bit of a past, which makes all this withholding business that much harder. Who will cave first?

The battle is on.

This is my second Kody Keplinger novel, and once again it is all about teen sex. When I read a book like this, I am always like “seriously? these teens are having that much sex??”. My high school experience was so opposite to this book. Obviously, this may be because of the crowd I hung out with, the fact that I live in a different country to Lissa and also my own views and opinions about teen sex (they are obviously very different to the authors, but I will put that aside). Anyway, I am always a bit incredulous to start with when I read something like this, but I get over it after a while and just settle into the story.

There were some good questions/thoughts raised about the double standards of sex, i.e. a girl who has sex a lot is a slut, but a guy who has sex a lot is a hero. Also, it makes you think about the way girls are treated: like a girl who doesn’t ‘give it up’ is a prude, or a tease, but then if she is having sex, then she’s a whore. It’s really not right for women to be treated this way but we all know it happens. (now I’m digressing …) One day I was thinking about how there are hardly any movies where there is a strong, woman heroine – in this day and age, you know? I guess that’s why novels are so great – there’s plenty of heroines out there.

Anyway, back to Shut Out. I think I liked it. I read it all in one go in the bath just now. I think that it was a superior book to The Duff, the first novel by Kody Keplinger.

If you like young adult books that are unafraid to be bold about sex, then I guess this is for you.

My rating: 3/5

Goodreads rating: 3.74/5

Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank.

UnknownBook One in the Rose Gardner Mysteries.

ebook, 395 pages

Published June 30th 2011 by Denise Grover Swank

Rose Gardner sticks out like a sore thumb in her small Southern town. Her mother tells her that she is demon possessed because she has visions, and doesn’t seem to love her a whole lot. Rather, she just bosses her around and forces her strict religious views upon her. Rose’s visions are always pointless and beyond her control. Like the neighbours dog getting loose, or the fact that a stranger’s daughter is sneaking out at night to see her boyfriend. What’s more, Rose cannot help but blurt out the contents of her visions once she’s had one – everyone in town thinks that she is weird.

One day while working at the DMV, Rose has a new sort of vision when encountering a strange customer. She sees herself on her couch – dead. Freaked out, she promptly faints. The next day at home, she snaps and has a very public fight with her mother before going for a long afternoon out at the library. Inspired by her sudden courage in standing up to Momma (not to mention the possibility of her death happening sooner rather than later), Rose writes out a list of twenty eight things that she wants to do – she’s twenty four years old and has hardly done any living, after all! When she finally returns home, she is shocked to find Momma lying on the couch, dead. And now Rose is the police’s main suspect.

Her next door neighbour, Joe, is also a bit of an outcast. He’s new to the town, with no deep family roots, which makes him an outcast. He and Rose only speak for the first time on the night that she discovers her mother’s body. But afterwards, he keeps hanging around – he puts a deadlock on her door among other things – and even offers to help Rose with her list. But the attraction between them is growing, and for some reason Joe insists that they can’t do anything about it – yet. Why is he acting so strange? Plus, Momma’s killer is still out there, and Rose keeps finding herself deeper in trouble – it’s only a matter of time before the police arrest her, or someone murders her.

I really enjoyed this book, probably for the same reason I enjoyed all the Sookie Stackhouse books – there’s a good Southern atmosphere. Also, I really like humorous mysteries – a year or so ago I went on a real bender with them. I must have bought the first book to about eight series, but I still haven’t read them all!

Rose is great – you can’t help but like her. She’s twenty four and, in a lot of ways, still a child. She’s just beginning to break out and become her own woman. It doesn’t look good for her innocence – being a prime murder suspect and suddenly changing everything about herself – and that’s partly the reason that she keeps getting in more trouble.

The romance aspect was really good to begin with and then cooled off a little bit for me. But there were other aspects to consider by that point, so that’s fine. The mystery was good, I think. Because it wasn’t too much in focus all the time, I wasn’t actively trying to figure it all out, hence when it came together I hadn’t already guessed it all. Some of it was perhaps a bit obvious, but there you go.

All in all, I quite liked this one. If you enjoy humorous mysteries, books set in the South, and the new adult genre, then you’ll probably like it too.

My rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads rating: 4.02/5

Kill the Music by Nansi Kunze.

18072883Paperback, 288 pages

Published July 1st 2013 by Random House Australia Pty Ltd

Lorna is the sister of Flint Powell, lead guitarist of Turmoil – the world’s most famous band. Their parents died some years ago and once Flint turned eighteen, he became Lorna’s legal guardian. She travels the world with his band and does all her school work long distance. But then the guys manager suggested they settle down a little bit to reduce stress – so they buy a house together in Australia, where Lorna starts attending a normal high school.

She makes a good friend in Gen, and popular guy Rueben keeps hitting on her. Lorna still gets to travel with the  band when they go on short weekend trips to other countries for filming videos and doing shows.

One day at a band practice, Lorna goes into a crowed storage room for some peace and overhears someone making a threatening phone call that sounds as if someone is planning to kill Turmoil. Lorna reports the incident to the police and is soon helping them try to uncover the main instigator. She’s the perfect plant, because she is so close to the guys and goes everywhere with them.

There are suspicious characters everywhere, and Lorna is bogged down trying to solve the mystery before something horrible happens.  Meanwhile, Marius – lead singer and notorious ladies man – starts showing an interest in Lorna …

If everyone loves the world’s most famous band, who is trying to kill them?

Kill the Music was good, but not fabulous. I loved the premise, and there were some parts that were really cool, but I felt like maybe something was missing. I don’t know. It’s one of those books that sort of goes smudgy in your mind afterwards, only letting the good parts be remembered. But I know that when I finished it, I definitely thought that it needed something a little more.

I guess how you react to a book also depends on what else you’ve been reading, like if you read something crap before it you might think “oh wow, this is awesome!” or if you read something amazing before it you’d probably be seriously disenchanted. For me, I have been reading more new adult stuff lately, so to go back to a younger main character again might have something to do with my experience.

Anyway, if you like young adult books about kids who lead a charmed life, or teenage sleuths, then check out Kill the Music.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars

Goodreads rating: 4.50/5