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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review: Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise #2) by Simone Elkeles


*I don’t recommend reading this review unless you’ve read Leaving Paradise first as it does contain some spoilery goodness from Leaving Paradise*

Release Date: September 1, 2010
Publisher: Flux
Genre: Realistic/Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 302
Source: Bought

Blurb (from Goodreads)

Maggie and Caleb just went through the worst year of their lives. Hit by a car and starting life over with a limp, Maggie never thought she would forgive Caleb. But she did—and fell in love. What they shared was real. But Caleb wanted to be free from the past—and a terrible secret: he wasn't the one who hit Maggie. So he left Paradise—and Maggie—forever. When Maggie and Caleb run into each other in a different town, they can't deny their true feelings. Will Maggie let Caleb get away again? Or will Caleb face the truth and return to Paradise?

The Quickie Review

Okay so confession, ever since I found out there was going to be a sequel to Leaving Paradise I had high hopes and expectations (perhaps a little too high?) for the sequel unfortunately however those expectations were not met, I was underwhelmed even though Return to Paradise has everything you've come to expect from a Simone Elkeles novel including a gorgeous yet tormented boy, an insecure girl and a very satisfying ending (if you like everything tied up nicely) that is just as sweet and sugary as I've come to expect from Ms. Elkeles' novels.

The Full Blown Review

It's been eight months since Caleb just up and left Paradise, leaving Maggie behind after their brief and tumultuous relationship, Caleb hasn't even contacted Maggie in that time, however circumstances soon conspire to place these two together again with explosive consequences.

Leaving Paradise begins with a police raid on the “house” (and I use that term very lightly, it was really a drug manufacturing house) Caleb is living in and once again Caleb is caught on the wrong side of the law. However, Caleb is given a reprieve from being sent straight back to jail if he joins the Re-START program where teens whose lives have been impacted by reckless driving travel around for a month sharing their stories with other teens. Sounds simple enough for Caleb but wait for it, I think you’ll guess it, he didn’t bank on the fact that Maggie would also be in the same program *da,da,da*. It is evident from their first meeting Maggie is still mad (and rightfully so) at Caleb and just wants to try and ignore him whilst Caleb just wants to get the whole program over and done with but being Maggie and Caleb these two can’t stay away from each other. How will Maggie and Caleb cope with being together for a whole month, will they finally get their happily ever after ending, well you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

First off I have to say I really wanted to love this as much as Leaving Paradise (to read my gushing love click HERE), I really did, but alas I just couldn’t there were just too many coincidences (I mean being placed together in the Re-START program, hmmm I’m not sure about that which was a problem because basically the whole story is based around this) not to mention Caleb who transformed from this gorgeous swoonworthy male in Leaving Paradise to this really angry character, okay you know what I’m just going to say it he was a bit pricky, oh Simone Elkeles why did you have to do that? Most of the interactions he had with Maggie and the other teens on the Re-START program were just mean and antagonistic which for me wasn’t Caleb at all.

Whilst Caleb seemed to have regressed I’m happy to say that in Return to Paradise Maggie was a much more confident character but she still was pretty cheesed that Caleb just upped and left her without even telling her it wasn’t him that hit her that night but his sister Leah. Maggie seemed to have accepted her situation a lot better compared to what she was like in Leaving Paradise, her friendship with Leah was also slowly starting to repair, it seemed that Maggie was finally able to forgive which is an important step in healing. Once Maggie meets Caleb again she is conflicted about her feelings towards him which whilst she knew they were not completely gone, she thought she had accepted his absence from her life, but has she?

Once again the book alternatives between both Caleb and Maggie’s point of view which really worked in the first book and does once again because we as readers can see what’s going on in both Caleb and Maggie’s heads. Occasionally this caused me some frustration when it was plainly obvious they both still cared for each other but they were both being so stubborn about it, argh it’s getting me annoyed again, see what I mean frustrating.

Now I’m the kind of person who likes happy endings that end nicely I guess you could call them cheesy endings, I love the cheese factor, but for some people they want an ending with a bit more substance, now I’m not saying the ending didn’t have any substance but it was very cheesy then again I guess it’s not completely unexpected if you’ve read any of Simone’s other novels (I’m talking about you perfect chemistry/rules of attraction). Basically what I’m trying to say is I liked the ending, it was very sweet and we had a conclusion but I don’t believe everyone will be satisfied with it.

Overall Return to Paradise was just an okay read for me, there seemed to be something missing in Return to Paradise that Leaving Paradise had. However, I did like how everything ended nicely and we did get a conclusion.

Rating

3.5 out of 5

Goodies


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Congratulations to Kirsty Eagar!



Congratulations are in order for Kirsty Eagar author of Raw Blue and Saltwater Vampires who last night won the Young Adult Fiction award for her debut novel Raw Blue at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2010 held by the Wheeler Centre (for books, writing and ideas).

The judge’s described Raw Blue as “a wonderfully assured novel that takes the reader from the stagnant aftermath of trauma to the subtle beginnings of recovery. Carly has dropped out of uni and works a monotonous kitchen job in order to devote the rest of her time to her real passion – surfing. Riding the bright skin of the ocean is where Carly belongs, and is the only place where she can begin to escape what happened to her two years ago at Schoolies. Raw Blue packs an unsentimental punch that is not easily forgotten”.


To read my review of Saltwater Vampires click HERE. To read my interview with the wonderful Kirsty click HERE.

Other authors shortlisted for this award were Phillip Gwynne for Swerve and Gabrielle Williams for Beatle Meets Destiny.

The judge’s described Swerve as a rare and hilarious combination of road novel, rite-of passage for a sheltered private school boy, and subtle love story between grandfather and grandson. Chess player and talented cellist, Hugh, is kept from being a total nerd by his passion for Holden muscle cars. So when a surprising grandfather turns up offering a drive to Uluru in a Monaro GTS 350 V8, Hugh (aka ‘Brockie’) accepts even though an important audition for the Conservatorium is only a week away. Poppy’s advice of ‘Never swerve’ demonstrates to Hugh that tackling head on what life throws up is a powerful philosophy, one movingly enacted in this story full of grunt”

Whilst the judges found Beatle Meets Destiny “a witty ride through tangles of circumstance and coincidence in suburban Melbourne. If your name was John Lennon (‘Beatle’ to your friends), and you happened to meet a girl at a tram stop whose name was Destiny McCartney, wouldn’t you think the universe was trying to tell you something? Slight complications: 1) Beatle already has a girlfriend. 2) Beatle’s twin sister is going out with his teacher – who also happens to be Destiny’s brother. Add some sparkling dialogue and sharply drawn characters to this comedy of errors, and you have a delightful gem of a novel”.


Congratulations to all the nominated authors.


Waiting on Wednesday: Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting



"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" is:

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

Release Date: March 15, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Group: Young Adult

Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life.

As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.

I love, love, loved the Body Finder, hands down one of my favourite books I’ve read this year, so imagine my giddiness when I found out there would be a sequel and just from reading the blurb I know it’s going to be awesome! I know 2011 seems so far away but I won’t have to wait long to read it because I’m on an ARC tour for it, I can’t wait until I get it in my little hands I’m going to devour it. Also isn’t the cover just beautiful, the pink flower is so vibrant against the black backdrop just as stunning as the cover for the Body Finder.

Well that’s my “waiting on” pick, what's yours this week?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesday #11


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab you current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“I know your bent outta shape, but you don’t understand. He’ll kill you, and if you’re lucky, the rest of them wont join in for fun.”
- p. 207, Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review: Matched by Ally Condie


Release Date: November 30, 2010 (US)/December 7, 2010 (Australia)
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Dystopian
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 304
Source: Between the Lines (Penguin Australia)

Blurb (from Penguin Australia)

On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her Match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life.

Except he's not.

In Cassia's society, Officials decide who people love.
How many children they have.
Where they work.
When they die.

But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own.

And that's when her whole world begins to unravel . . .

The Quickie Review

Whilst for a dystopian novel Matched may not be action packed in the literal sense its’ brilliance lies in its subtleties that leaves you with an ever increasing feeling of dread for the citizens of the society. It is not a novel you can simply forget once you’ve finished, it will leave you contemplating its’ overarching themes of love, duty and blind obedience well after. With its’ disturbing undertones throughout and beautiful writing style Matched is an amazing debut novel that will leave you wanting more.

The Full Blown Review

Matched begins on the night of Cassia’s Match Banquet when her Match, who she will spend the rest of her life with, will be revealed. The society as it is known chooses each individual’s perfect Match based on compatibility or so it seems. It turns out that Cassia’s Match is her best friend Xander who she will eventually marry and live happily ever after, the. end. journey over, however it appears Cassia’s journey is only beginning. She soon discovers that perhaps Xander is not her perfect Match it could be Ky a boy Cassia has known since she was young however it is revealed he can never be her Match because he has been deemed an aberration by the society and never allowed to be Matched. Is smart and sweet Xander Cassia’s real perfect match or is it Ky, the fascinating aberration who according to the society can never be her match? Now Cassia must choose between following the society’s rules and plans for her future which means being Matched to Xander or going against the society and following her heart to Ky.

Wow this novel amazed me with its brilliance, I loved everything about it especially Ally Condie’s intricate world building through her beautiful writing style. Towards the end of the novel I was surprised that I’d nearly finished it, I was so immersed in Cassia’s world I didn’t want it to end. I was also surprised that by the time I was near the end there wasn’t much action that had taken place at all, yet this did not distract from the novel because rather than going for action in the literal sense Ally Condie opted for a more understated action in the form of ever an increasing sense of trepidation in the societies controlling governance.

Throughout Matched we are taken on a journey through Cassia’s eyes, at first Cassia has a positive view of the Society but slowly her view and the readers view begins to taint with the realization of Ky and his situation which leaves Cassia with a feeling of mistrust and hatred for the society that is trying to exert complete control over it’s citizens. When I say complete control I mean it, the society controls the food individuals eat, the amount of exercise they undertake, the job they are assigned, even death is controlled by the society who decide when you’re going to die which I personally found really creepy.

The society we find Cassia in is one in which free thought and questioning is frowned upon, the society controls everything so much so that they decided previously the culture was too cluttered so they chose the 100 of the best of everything from the 100 best poems to the 100 best songs and destroyed the rest. It is fitting perhaps that Cassia’s real questioning starts after she receives a poem that is not on the 100 poems list from her grandfather which states ‘Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’ With these powerful words Cassia is transformed, her eyes are now open to the society and its injustice. Things that Cassia may have never given a second thought to are suddenly analysed and questioned, clearly Cassia’s ‘perfect’ world has been shattered however her world was never perfect she just thought it was.

Whilst Matched goes into great detail about the repressive society it is also a love story where Cassia must choose between taking the seemingly easier path to be with Xander her ‘real’ match (as deemed by the society) or choose the difficult path to be with Ky the aberration who according to the society cannot be her match. This is an extremely difficult decision for Cassia who has always trusted in the society, she’s never had a reason not to trust them but now it seems she does. Cassia’s and Ky’s relationship is what one would call slow burning, because the society is watching their every move the time Cassia spends with Ky is limited.

The ending left me wanting more and definitely leaves room for a continuation of Cassia’s story. It was insinuated throughout Matched that all was not well for the society, there was a war going on between the society and its citizens somewhere but it was never elaborated on in any great detail, it was always on the periphery. It is clear that this will definitely be explored in the second book which will be very interesting given the amazing world building Ally Condie executed when describing the society.

Ultimately for me Matched is a novel about a controlling government, its naive citizens who go about their business and a questioning teenager whose eyes are opened to the exhaustive control and injustice the society exerts. It is a novel about questioning, questioning about what is right and what is wrong. Whilst the society left no room for questioning, leaving its citizens in a permanent state of ignorance, Cassia is questioning everything.

Rating

4.5 out of 5

There’s Another Book?!?

According to Ally there is a second book (yippee!) however I’m not sure what it will be called and when the release date will be, I’ll keep you guys posted if I find anything out.

Goodies


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About Me

Romy @ Lost.in.Stories
Greetings fellow blog readers, welcome to my blog and thank you for stopping by. Now you may be wondering who is lost.in.stories? Well lost.in.stories is also known as Romy, a 23 year old graduate student from Australia who loves to read. I read (maybe devour would be a more appropriate word) largely young adult novels, with a particular love of fantasy and paranormal novels, however I am also a sucker for a good romance.
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