Monday, 2 February 2015

Oh DEAR | Dec/Jan Reviews

At the end of November, I set myself the goal of reading four books by the end of January: Lola and the Boy Next Door, Girl Online, Eleanor and Park, and The Maze Runner. Fortunately, I had quite a bit of time to read over the Christmas holidays and have now read all 4 books (unlike November's disaster...)



'Lola and the Boy Next Door' by Stephanie Perkins 

"Could the boy from her past be the love of her future?

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit—the more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. And life is pretty close to perfect in Lola's world, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend. That is, until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood and unearth a past of hurt and anguish that Lola thought was long buried. When talented inventor Cricket steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door."

~

I enjoyed reading this book. It's well-written, contains some good characters and is a good light read. The only thing was that I found the actual plot to be a bit bland and predictable. I knew what was going to happen from even the first page and nothing happened in the book to make me believe anything different would happen, which is something that I maybe would like to have seen.

I really like the character of Lola but I would liked to have seen the Bell twins portrayed a bit differently, especially Calliope. She is supposed to be this confident, bitchy girl with so much power over Lola but I didn't really get that feel from her. Lola seems to hate Calliope so I do think she could have been portrayed as a lot meaner than she was.

All in all, 'Lola and the Boy Next Door' is great if you're looking for a light, romantic read. As I said, it is well-written and has some good characters in it. For me, it's just a case of personal preference, I think - I prefer books where I can really get my teeth into the storyline or where there's a bit of an element of mystery.

Rating 3/5
★★★


'Girl Online' by Zoe Sugg


" Penny has a secret.

Under the alias Girl Online, Penny blogs her hidden feelings about friendship, boys, her crazy family and the panic attacks that have begun to take over her life. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets Noah: a gorgeous, guitar-strumming American. Suddenly Penny is falling in love - and capturing every moment of it on her blog.

But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny's cover - and her closest friendship - forever."



~
(Note: I know there has been a lot of drama and speculation surrounding this book regarding ghost writers etc and there still remains divided opinions. I'm going to ignore all of that and write a review based on the book itself)
~

I really really enjoyed this book. For me, it has the perfect balance between romance and an interesting storyline. We don't find out Noah's secret until near the end of the book and then everything starts to unravel.

I love the character of Penny and felt I could relate to her on so many levels, especially regarding the clumsy and embarrassing moments that seem to follow her everywhere!! I think that my personality is quite similar to Penny's and I just found that I could really understand her.

I love that there was a total plot twist after Penny returned from New York because considering how many pages were left I was sort of thinking "Hmmm, where will Zoe take this?" But I think it was brilliant and so appropriate to modern society (I won't say anymore because I don't want to spoil it for anyone ;) )

I think it's great, too, that Zoe added her own personal touches to the book like Penny living in Brighton and having a blog and, most of all, that she suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. I love that Zoe is sending out the message that you are not alone and it is possible to overcome these problems.

I really love this book, and I'm not just saying that because I love Zoe. I'm saying that because I love the storyline, the characters and the message. I can't wait for the sequel to come out later this year!

Rating: 5/5
★★★★★


'Eleanor and Park' by Rainbow Rowell




"Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try."

~

I'm going to be brutally honest here. This book didn't live up to my expectations.

It's not that I didn't like it - I did, overall. I love the messages it gave about body image and self-confidence and diversity in not only race but social class. 

It's just that there were times where I felt like the storyline was dragging a bit and not really going anywhere. Eleanor also frustrated me at times when she got annoyed at Park for no apparent reason, walking out of his house and then afterwards acting normal. I just didn't understand that. That aspect of her personality did annoy me a bit if I'm honest.

Okay, enough negativity.

I love the character of Park. I think he is so sweet and caring and I love the whole fearless side of himself that he developed through being with Eleanor. As for Eleanor, I didn't feel like I, personally, could relate much to her but I do like her character and I admire her amazing courage - not only in terms of how she dresses but also how she deals with her abusive stepfather.

Although, as I said, I feel like this book didn't quite live up to my expectations, I did like the whole story and grew to love Eleanor and Park's relationship. I was so sad with the way it ended!

Rating: 4/5
★★★★


'The Maze Runner' by James Dashner


" When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind."

~

As a major fan of the Hunger Games series, I had been meaning to read this book for so long! I'd just never actually gotten round to it. But I'm so glad I did this month because I absolutely LOVED it! It's fast-paced, action-packed and gripping the whole way through. There is also an element of mystery regarding Thomas' identity and how the teenagers ended up in the maze. It made me want to skip right to the end and find out! I stayed strong, though, and just kept reading before all was revealed.

The storyline itself I found really interesting, and some parts were so smart the way Dashner wrote them. I found it difficult to put the whole book down, never mind the really exciting action scenes.

I really like the character of Thomas and I like the way we are with him right from his first day in the Glade, learning everything about the maze etc with him instead of from him. It made it more interesting that way.

I know that this book wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea but if you are a fan of The Hunger Games or Divergent, then I would highly recommend it to you. It has basically all the elements of those two series, just with a bit less of the romance element (something which I think we'll see more of in the sequel, 'The Scorch Trials'). I'm definitely going to read the sequel and watch the movie when it comes out on DVD next week!

Rating: 5/5
★★★★★


The 4 books I aim to have read by the end of March are:

'Jenny Unravelled' by Pauline McLynn
'True Love Always' by Siobhan Curham
'If I Stay' by Gayle Forman
'All The Bright Places' by Jennifer Niven

If you have read any of the books mentioned in this post, I would love to know what you thought of them! Or if you have any recommendations for books to read after the four above, I would love to hear them aswell :)


- Caoimhe x

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