Unrivalled by Alyson Noël

unrivalledThe feel of this book is an interesting mixture of Young Adult with a certain flair for the reality and cut-throat world of Hollywood. It reminded me of a Jackie Collins story without the huge dollop of sex she was known to incorporate into her books.

It’s the same kind of intimate and truthful look behind the golden curtains of Hollywood lifestyles, the the ruthless choices people will make to be famous, and just how hungry they are to be in the spotlight.

Obviously the fate of Madison is left as a cliffhanger to lead into another book. I couldn’t decide whether it was an intentional ploy by Noël. Was it thrown in there at random purely to hook readers, who will want to know where the girl is? A Gone Girl moment? Or did the glitzy reality TV show like competition just sink the second plot?

Tommy, Layla and Aster and just three of many when it comes to wanting a step up the ladder of fame and fortune. Taking part in a competition to become one of Ira’s shaker and movers seems like the perfect way to achieve their goals.

Layla chooses to chat, gossip and lie for her bread and butter. Tommy becomes too attached to Madison and Aster is suddenly famous in a way she really didn’t expect or want. I wonder if Noël will go back to what happened to Aster. It’s left a wee bit open-ended in this story. It needs to be addressed in some way.

In the end I think they all sacrifice a little bit of their soul to be a part of celebrity circle.

I think this will appeal to older teens and young adults. The whole ‘becoming famous’ via social media and the manipulations celebs pull off to stay on the front pages, and on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

Of course the real question is what happened to Madison? I guess we will find out in the next book.

Buy Unrivalled at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Nina is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi

nina.pngIt doesn’t get much grittier or realistic than this. I am sure this will echo with quite a few readers, especially the ones who can relate to Nina’s life on a more personal level.

The relationship between Nina and her mother is pivotal. She feels abandoned by her mother, is reluctant to accept the new father figure in her life, but clearly dotes on her baby sister. Their plans revolve around what is best for her step-father and her mother.

Apparently being 17 going on 18 also means you can throw someone out of the nest. Like an animal being cast out of the herd. Of course the truth is age is just a number and doesn’t necessarily mean maturity.

Perhaps if Mom had been less involved with herself and her future plans she might have been able to help Nina sooner. In fact she should have asked more questions and been more concerned the day Nina came home in that state in the taxi.

Khorsandi’s story is bold. Unfortunately it is a vivid and true image of our society at the moment. One would think that in the 21st century sexual assault would finally be perceived differently, and the reactions to it should be more about victim support and less about victim blaming. Unfortunately that still isn’t the case. Something which is painfully clear in this book.

Zoe’s reaction is shameful, deplorable and all too common. Instead of questioning the actions of her boyfriend, she sets out to shame her friend. There really is no excuse for putting images and videos of sexual assaults or indecent images of victims online. It should be punished by law and that includes sharing them. If Nina had been under 16 years of age it would be considered to be an illegal offence.

The most interesting part of the story is Nina’s reaction to the events. She is quite willing to accept the global view that as a girl she is just out of control. She is easy, she’s a slut, she’s a whore and hey she is totally up for it. Oh wait I forgot, it is her fault because she had a drink.

Not once does any man/boy say let’s not, because you have had a little too much to drink. No one questions why she is clearly out of control or losing the plot. The combination of a genetic disposition, her family history and the events in the alley are all contributing factors in her downwards spiral.

It takes Nina a long time to comprehend what happened to her. To acknowledge the ugly truth about the events in the alley. To take the blame placed firmly upon her shoulders by others and putting it where it belongs, on the shoulders of the abusers.

I wish I could say Nina’s situation is just fiction and a great idea for a book. It isn’t, this is the reality of sexual assault, rape and abuse in our day and age. A society of people who have no idea what No means, and certainly have no clue that if the woman/man you’re with has not given their consent then you’re committing rape. Unconscious does not mean yes. Being so drunk you have no idea what is going on does not mean yes.

Be prepared for bare truths and no attempt at candy floss cover-ups. It is a book I will be recommending because of the way Khorsandi doesn’t gloss over the truth.

Buy Nina is Not Ok at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

I’m Keeping You by Jane Lark

laekRachel faces an inner battle every day, actually make that two battles. Being bipolar is like riding an emotional roller-coaster. Ups and downs, from manic episodes to deep dark pits of depression.

The other daily fight is choosing between being medicated and feeling like a walking zombie, and not taking the meds and feeling like her normal self.

Her euphoric self nearly kills her son, which triggers concerns about her capabilities as a mother. Her ex raises his ugly egotistical head and threatens the happy family life Rachel has with Jason.

As is often the case Declan the ex is more interested in revenge rather than the welfare of the child.

Jason is an interesting character, he has this strange kind of co-dependant relationship with Rachel. He likes the zany, the crazy and the impetuous side of Rachel, aka her manic episodes. On one hand he wants her on the medication, and on the other he really misses the other non-medicated Rachel. This has got to send out mixed signals to the poor woman.

I’m Keeping You is the fourth in the Starting Out series. It is a mixture of romance, steamy bedroom antics and mental health issues.

Buy I’m Keeping You at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Relentless by Cassia Leo


After reading about how utterly and totally awesome the ex-boyfriend Chris was, and how he is such a super duper singer that he is now a Rock-star, I was less than impressed by his performance at the end of the book. What a plonker and a domineering one at that. I do not get the appeal.
Not that Adam was much better. There is this cosmic literary misconception that all gals love a bad boy and that the bad boy needs to be insensitive, rude and have misogynistic tendencies.
I would have liked to have seen the author explore the anxiety attacks and the interesting association Claire has to water in stress inducing environments. Perhaps also a closer look at the traumatic experiences that defined her.
The reader spends the entire book waiting for some awful secret to be revealed about Claire. I thought it was something completely different. The actual secret fits very well into the state of mind Claire exhibits and her decisions in the previous year.
Hopefully the character of Claire will be able to emerge from the shadows of the overbearing males she surrounds herself with and start to live a little without needing the helping hands of others.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

The hybrid witch/guardian with a lot of energy and a lack of common sense

Werewolves Be Damned (Magic & Mayhem, #1)Werewolves Be Damned by Stacey Kennedy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you’re a fan of Stacey Kennedy you might recognise this story as being the novel version of (THE WILLOW – THE MAGICAL SWORD BOOK ONE ) BY Kennedy, Stacey (Author) Paperback Published on (07 , 2010).
The author must have decided to turn the novella into a full length story. Give it a sexy cover and an enticing title and hey presto.
The main character is a hybrid witch/guardian hidden in the world of humans. The beginning shoots out of the gate like a hare on a mission and then bam, the reader is thrown from the violent prologue into the subdued world of the guardians.
I found that a bit bizarre to be honest. I am all for a pre-story but going from prologue to first chapter needs to be a little more subtle.
In general I felt if the author had slowed the pace down and spent some time creating characters with depth that this would have been a stronger story. As it was I didn’t connect with any of the characters. Nexi was very ‘let’s go all Lara Croft’ without any semblance of actual experience or skill. Who goes hunting werewolves without any training?
The vibe of the book was very YA, as opposed to the New Adult it is supposed to be. The only obvious difference being the extracurricular spicy scenes.
I recieved a copy of this book via NetGalley.

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A story about love or friendship or about control?

The Edge of Never (The Edge of Never, #1)The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Is this book making young hearts beat faster and sigh at the thought of this endearing love story?
The answer to that would be yes.
I found the description of the female main character a little disturbing. She is portrayed as completely immature, as if she has no common sense or sense of self preservation. In fact she actually describes herself as ‘needing’ a male to teach her how to not get into situations which may be dangerous for her.
I mean is this really how the author perceives young women or women in general. Do we ‘need’ to be led in the right direction?
That was just the lead up to the borderline BDSM like sexual relationship which develops between the two main characters.
What really got my goat was the almost obsessive fascination with rape. Aside from the fact that the storyline seems to imply that women should know or be taught super infallible ‘how not to get raped skills’ and if they don’t it’s their own fault.
Hmm this seems to be a reocurring flawed thought process in YA and New Adult books that keeps rearing its ugly little head. Worrying to think that in our era many young women really do believe that if they don’t adapt their behaviour to these ‘how not to get raped skills’ that they are somehow part of the problem.
The answer to that is No they’re not.
Having to keep yourself safe, use common sense and trust your gut, whilst watching out for predators is a cop out of the upper echelon of ruling society. It is quite simply society putting the burden of keeping potential victims safe on the victims instead of keeping them safe by controlling and punishing the predators.
Overall the story is sweet veering on the edge of unhealthy. Towards the end it becomes really emotional and more centred on the stronger points of the plot.
I can see why it is a popular book. Personally I think it has aspects in it that I wouldn’t want any female to take on board.
I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley

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