Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

This is a very cute high school romance that used all the common themes from the genre… and then turned them on their heads.

The pretty, popular blonde is nice and smart and a good friend.

The popular guy doesn’t turn out to be horrible.

The high school stereotypes are there, but people have more layers than clichéd personality traits.

The high school experience in America is so completely different to here in Australia that it’s like learning a foreign culture, but I think the author painted her setting really well.

I really, really liked pretty much everything about this story. The dramas weren’t over the top, and the inevitable trust issues and betrayal worked realistically.

One thing that bugged me at the start was how much the protagonist – Matilda – complained about how stupid and embarrassing her name was. There’re going to be a lot of young readers offended by that; ‘Matilda’ might not be a popular name in America, but it regularly makes it onto top names lists in other countries. It is enormously popular in Australia. I have a young cousin in Europe with the name.

But that’s about it for complaints. This book has a lot of very familiar YA themes, and yet it felt fresh and new. I loved it.

I picked up The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back when it was free, but I’d say it’s more than worth the $2.99.

YOUNG BALLERINA dictionary page book art print

YOUNG BALLERINA dictionary page book art print by Vintage Art Print.

YOUNG BALLERINA dictionary page book art print

Desert Flower by Angela Scott

Desert Flower by Angela Scott

Bloggers! The author of this book is looking for people to write a review. I – obviously – already own a copy of this book, but if you’re interested, go HERE.

Bodies have a canny way of finding Samantha Jean Haggert. The first, the dead body of her mama. The second, a naked man in the middle of the Arizona desert. For Sam, dealing with one dead body in her lifetime is more than unfair. Two, is downright cruel.

Seven years after running from West Virginia, Sam’s now a young woman of nineteen, trying to put the pieces of her life together with the help of her family—Jacob, Boone, and Laura. But the naked man in the desert spirals her world out of control, resurfacing past hurts, revealing old secrets, and pitting her between two men who via for her heart. Carson, her friend, her first kiss, and the one man who knows everything about her past and loves her despite it. And Turner, the stranger who knows nothing, but who excites and frustrates her all at once.

When bad choices made as a child leads to more bad choices as a young adult, Sam finds herself at a crossroads and is forced to face her demons head on if she plans to have any future at all—with Carson, with Turner, or with anyone. But fixing the wrongs of the past takes time, and learning to forgive herself is damn near impossible.

 

Desert Flower by Angela Scott

I’m trying not to give away too much of the storyline here, but there might be a few things you consider spoilers – be warned!

 

As soon as I finished Desert Rice I was wondering what to read next. To my absolute delight, I discovered there was a sequel to the book, and I started reading it immediately. Desert Flower sure gives you a lot to think about, and I plan to read it a second time, now I know the outcome of the tangled relationships.

 

It was a good book. However, it was a full-on adult romance, whereas the first book was Young Adult Fiction. In this sequel the narrator is now an adult, and she is involved in a love triangle with men in their mid-twenties or older. Themes in this one include marriage and childrearing, so it is definitely taking the characters into a different phase of their lives.

 

If you asked me what tropes I liked the least in romances, they would be love triangles and secret babies. Desert Flower has both of them, and yet I found the book to be compulsive reading. It was just as much a page-turner as the first.

 

I had an issue with a massive secret Sam kept to herself in the first book, and was happy to see that situation resolved here. However, then she goes and cancels out her good deed by doing practically the same thing all over again! It’s a personal thing for me; I’ve had experiences of my own that have caused me to believe there’s no such thing as a good secret.

 

This is both a romance of sorts, but also a drama. Sam had horrific things happen to her when she was younger, and those experiences have shaped who she is and the way she reacts to things here. Issues such as depression are covered realistically, and often painfully. I really do hate when a love triangle means a good man ends up hurt, and that is the case here – but I just made up my own little happy ending for him in my head!

 

While I have no doubt you could read this one without reading Desert Rice first, here’s my advice: don’t. The first book is such a deep dark, emotional story, and I don’t see how Desert Flower could have the same impact on you without it.

 

If you’re looking solely for YA, stick to Desert Rice. If you think you’re at a stage to handle grown-up Sam too, read these books close together, like I did. The impact is massive.

 

 

Desert Rice by Angela Scott

Desert Rice by Angela Scott

Samantha Jean Haggert is a beautiful twelve-year-old girl—but no one knows it. All they see is an awkward boy in a baseball cap and baggy pants. Sam’s not thrilled with the idea of hiding her identity, but it’s all part of her older brother’s plan to keep Sam safe from male attention and hidden from the law. Fifteen-year-old Jacob will stop at nothing to protect his sister, including concealing the death of the one person who should have protected them in the first place—their mother.

Sam and Jacob try to outrun their past by stealing the family car and travelling from West Virginia to Arizona, but the adult world proves mighty difficult to navigate, especially for two kids on their own. Trusting adults has never been an option; no adult has ever given them a good reason. But when Sam meets “Jesus”—who smells an awful lot like a horse—in the park, life takes a different turn. He saved her once, and may be willing to save Sam and her brother again, if only they admit what took place that fateful day in West Virginia. The problem? Sam doesn’t remember, and Jacob isn’t talking.

Desert Rice by Angela Scott

Desert Rice is a mystery you just know is going to get worse before it gets better, and also a story of the lengths one sibling will go to to protect the other.

I kept this for a special day, knowing it would be great, and then instead of savouring it, tore through it in one evening. It’s the kind of story you’re not going to want to put down until you know things are (relatively) okay in the end.

Definitely a gritty book, if you’re tired of the fluffy teen romances that dominate the YA market these days, this one might be for you. In fact, I’d recommend it for everyone!

Desert Rice has a – very different – sequel, if you’re interested. However, be warned, unlike this one it is not a YA book. The protagonist is all grown up, and the book deals with marriage and childrearing. It is a very good book, but not as much for younger readers as this one.

Currently Free: The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.

 

Australia Day

australian-flag-map

Today is Australia Day – which is Australia’s national day, and the anniversary of the arrival of the first ships of European settlers to this land. There’re fireworks and barbeques and things.

It sounds a little sad, but I’m spending today on my own and I’m actually looking forward to some time to read and get some work done! Everyone has travelled to Sydney to see family.

This all sounds peaceful, but my day got off to a bad start, when I was woken by someone yelling through my window that they’d just crashed their car on the way out of the driveway, so they were leaving it here and taking the BMW to Sydney instead.

Seriously – who expects to be woken up like that?!

So now there’s a car sitting outside with a smashed door that won’t close anymore – I’m trying to decide whether to cover it or something before tonight.

Anyway, I think I need a glass of wine now!

I hope the day is better from now on!

Cute Bookmarks

Cute bookmarks by Funky Dreams Art Studio.

Blue Bookmark

Butterfly Bookmark

Cute Butterfly Bookmark

4 Leaf Clover Bookmark

Play with Me by Piper Shelly

Play with Me by Piper Shelly

Ryan Hunter’s parties are legend. And tonight she’s going to be there.

Liza Matthews anticipates the return of her best friend and only love since kindergarten from soccer camp. But when Tony finally shows up, his mind is more focused on another girl. And worse, she’s a soccer player. Fighting for the attention Liza craves, she’s just a hairbreadth away from making a very stupid decision. But when extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, she’s prepared to play ball to get her man.

The tryouts are hell, the first match ends bloody, and the morning after the selection party she wakes up in the worst place possible—in the arms of the captain of the soccer team. The hottest guy in school. Ryan Hunter.

Play with Me by Piper Shelly

This was a cute, quick Young Adult romance that borrowed a few tropes I happen to enjoy a lot. Unrequited love. The invisible best friend who just wants the boys to realise she exists. The betrayal that leads to grovelling (I am possibly a mean person!) – in fact, that one happens twice.

The dialogue in Play with Me is lively, the characters fun and the outcome satisfying. Liza is clueless but not irritatingly so, and she is someone most readers will be able to relate to. There were a lot of moments that put a smile on my face.

The one thing I could have done without was – yet again – the demonising of the attractive blonde. This is a big problem in YA fiction, and something Stephenie Meyer popularised. The ‘other woman’ doesn’t always have to be evil just because she’s attractive.

The epilogue wasn’t really an epilogue, but more a long wrap-up of the happy ending. It will work for fans who can’t get enough of the relationship, but the book could have ended before it and been just as effective.

This was definitely a cute little story, featuring a heroine whose life takes a whole bunch of crazy turns in the space of a summer. Recommended for fans of high school romances.

Free Book: Talisman Of El by Alecia Stone

Talisman Of El by Alecia Stone

Talisman Of El by Alecia Stone

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS A LIE?

One Planet.

Two Worlds.

Population: Human … 7 billion.

Others … unknown.

When 14-year-old Charlie Blake wakes up sweating and gasping for air in the middle of the night, he knows it is happening again. This time he witnesses a brutal murder. He’s afraid to tell any one. No one would believe him … because it was a dream. Just like the one he had four years ago – the day before his dad died.

Charlie doesn’t know why this is happening. He would give any thing to have an ordinary life. The problem: he doesn’t belong in the world he knows as home. He belongs with the others.

Jennifer Weltz – Young Adult Fiction The Evolution of Content