Maude runs away from home to escape a future that would not be her own. She makes her way to PThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Maude runs away from home to escape a future that would not be her own. She makes her way to Paris and answers a job posting before realizing that the job was to be plain. An unusual agency hires out “ugly” females to their rich clientele with the idea that when the rich are next to someone bland, they would look more attractive. Maude soon realizes that her client has hired her for her daughter, who has no idea that she’s paid for. The two young girls become friends and Maude is conflicted on where her allegiances lie.
In all honesty, this story really snuck up on me. I knew the premise was interesting and I had wanted to check it out, but I had no idea just how much it would pull me in. There is so much more psychology than what might appear on the surface with how Ross writes each of the girls in the agency. Being a repoussoir, or a “repulser”, would certainly take its toll on a person’s mental state.
While I’m not sure if the girl on the cover is supposed to represent Maude, I certainly don’t consider her “plain” nor “ugly” in the least! In fact, Maude and all the other characters really came across as strong women, despite their position in life. They all had their individual shortcomings and flaws and yet all shone past that as well. Even the title itself, Belle Epoque, is French for “beautiful era” which holds so much more significance in the context of this novel.
In a way, the basis of the story is not necessarily a novel one. There are many stories where the protagonist pretends to be someone they’re not. What makes Ross stand apart from all of that is that the intentions of said protagonist in Belle Epoque are not motivated by a romantic relationship but rather a platonic friendship. And looking back on my initial comment about how it caught me off guard with how invested I became with the story, it’s actually not that surprising after all. I love stories that have strong, yet vulnerable, characters that rise above their circumstances in life and show the world what they’re really made of. This is exactly that kind of book....more
Superhero Girl can leap tall buildings (up to eleven storeys) while saving kittens and helpingThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil Lost
Superhero Girl can leap tall buildings (up to eleven storeys) while saving kittens and helping the elderly. Without the mask and cape, she's an ordinary Canadian girl who lives in the shadow of her superior superhero brother and tries to deal with an annoying nemesis all the while managing day-to-day life of having to do laundry and pay the rent.
I absolutely adored this graphic novel. Like, full-on LOVED this collection of comic strips by Faith Erin Hicks. Being a fan of comic books, graphic novels and comic strips, this collection pokes fun at many aspects of the superhero genre. In a similar fashion as Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant!, Adventures of Superhero Girl has an ongoing story as well as random interjecting comic strip "interludes".
The drawings are cartoon-like and very much the style of other Faith Erin Hicks works, with enough detail and realism mixed with the absolutely strange & bizarre scenarios. I wish there was more to say about this besides my raving but this is a definite must-read if you're a fan of graphic novels, superheroes and comic strips. Even if you just love a good laugh-out-loud read - this is the one to pick up....more
Jackson Oz, a biologist/blogger, has been warning people for years about the increase iThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Jackson Oz, a biologist/blogger, has been warning people for years about the increase in animal attacks on humans. To his dismay, nobody had ever taken him seriously until the attacks become more and more frequent. Animals are behaving out of character, brutally attacking people all over the world and yet Oz still faces a large number of people who think he's a joke. With the help of Chloe, an ecologist he meets in Africa and a handful of other scientists, Oz tries in vain to get a video out into the world with damning evidence of his theory. To what lengths and extremes must the attacks go before Oz successfully captures the attention of the government?
I absolutely devoured this book (no pun intended). What actually initially attracted me to Zoo was the cover, and upon reading the premise, I was even more intrigued. This was a book I could not put down. Patterson poses some really poignant and timely statements and ideas and really makes you think about what would really happen to society if this were to actually come true. Even the varying reactions of everyone and the attempts towards a solution are notable because we as the reader can absolutely see humanity reacting in the way that they do in this book.
Keeping a fast paced narrative, this story just speeds along from one horrific moment to the next, at times making me cringe at the imagery. While I'm not expertly-versed in all the biology and ecology way of things, I felt Zoo was completely plausible and believable. I was completely sold on it. Funny enough, the one thing that originally hooked me was the cover, and in the end, while I do love it, it really doesn't have much to do with the actual story. Sure, the animals have unleashed a global attack, but the story isn't set in Paris at all and actually has very little to do with the it.
Zoo reminded me of Jurassic Park, with the intensity and unpredictability of animals gone wild. If you love this type of edge-of-your-seat read, you'll love Zoo as much as I did!...more
Developing the story where Shatter Me left off, but in the POV of Warner – Juliette’s captor. Now THIS is how you do a character development story. Mafi continues with her eloquent style of writing, with flowing words and phrases without it being contrived. She completely steps into the shoes of Warner and allows us all to get another look at this apparent villain. So much angst and anguish. This story did to me with Warner what the “Confidence Man” episode of Lost did to me for Sawyer: highlighted the soft side of a bad boy. <3...more
Tessa is about to leave the company where she works with her longtime crush Nicholas, and herThis, and other reviews, can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Tessa is about to leave the company where she works with her longtime crush Nicholas, and her ex-boyfriend (who happens to be Nicholas' best friend) to start her own freelance graphic design business. With their time working together seemingly running out, Tessa has no idea that Nicholas feels the same way and has actually arranged to be her Secret Santa. In an elaborately extravagant display of affection, Tessa's Secret Santa gifts her with the items from the song "Santa Baby". Nicholas' plan is going smoothly until his best friend confides in him that he wants to rekindle things with Tessa.
Secret Santa Baby is a quick, fun holiday read. Told in alternating points of view, the story was able to keep progressing nicely without it becoming bland. Also, because it's an e-novella, there isn't much time to really delve into too much backstory but Covington does a nice job with sharing enough history between these characters to have the current main story make sense. Understanding the shorter format however, I did find the ending a bit conveniently & quickly wrapped up. I felt it to be a cheesy finale to an otherwise believable courtship but perhaps that theme or style is customary for romance novels.
I had picked this e-book up on a whim when I saw it mentioned on Twitter and while I don't often read a lot of romance novels, I couldn't resist the clever premise (and that cover!). I'm glad I decided to give a book that's out of my usual comfort zone a chance, because Secret Santa Baby is definitely an entertaining one-sitting read!...more
Hannah Harrington's novel Saving June is a gripping story of how a family, and more specificRating: 4.5/5 stars
Heart-breaking. Gut-wrenching. Amazing.
Hannah Harrington's novel Saving June is a gripping story of how a family, and more specifically a younger sister, copes with the suicide of her perfect older sister. Harper is the one who finds the lifeless body of her sister June. With no note left behind, she struggles with her inner conflicts and emotions while her dysfunctional family deal with the grief in their own ways. While looking through her deceased sister's desk drawers, Harper finds something that sets the wheels in motion to go on a road trip to the West coast. With her best friend and a mysterious boy as her travelling companions, Harper embarks on a road trip across the country, full of adventures that her sister never got the chance to experience.
Wow. The theme of the novel is a dark one - suicide and grief - but Harrington manages to weave an in depth tale full of laughter, tears and some lessons on great music. The reader feels the conflicted emotions alongside Harper as she struggles with the despair of losing her sister, with the fact that she couldn't shed a tear over it. Her misguided adventures full of good intentions attempt to lighten the mood on an otherwise somber voyage.
I received Saving June via NetGalley and had heard a lot of buzz from other book bloggers about it. It didn't disappoint. Right from the get-go, I was captivated by the well-paced story. Harrington's writing has a natural flow, easy for readers to keep pushing onward to find out what happens. The characters are dynamic, with such depth that you feel attached to each of the 3 travelers. Harper (which, by the way, I love that name) is a refreshingly strong & realistic character. I say refreshing because it's nice to not constantly see girly-girls as the main character. It's nice to see Harper have some spunk to her and not just drooling over every boy that walks by (leave that to her best friend!) Really, my only frustration with the book came near the end, where Harper has an outburst directed towards one of her fellow travelers, whom she had just spent some intense and meaningful moments with. Granted, the circumstances might have warranted it, but I just felt it an unnecessary (but admittedly, plot-forwarding) hitch to the nearly-ending story. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Brilliantly written, capturing all the facets of grief and that it's the people around you that can help you heal the most.
Saving June is available in stores November 22, 2011
Amy always felt a bit awkward and out of place, her only friend being her neighbour JoThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Amy always felt a bit awkward and out of place, her only friend being her neighbour Joe. That is until she caught the attention of two popular girls who pulled her under their wing. She wasn’t like Lila the pretty one, or Cassie the tough one; at times, Amy felt like she was the drab “leftover” one. When their prom dates are a no-show, they decide to try and make the best of their night and end up landing themselves in jail. The fall-out from their actions means Amy has been banned from seeing the other two by her parents, no cell phone contact and visits to a courtroom, a therapist and a lawyer – all while juggling a job at the local gas station. Faced with the dilemma of being asked to testify against her friends, Amy struggles to find herself among the rubble that her and her friends have created for themselves.
If ever there was a “coming of age” story, this would definitely fit the bill. The cover, with the gorgeous party dress, admittedly made me think it was a light fluff, fun story but Burstein has written a very gritty and real tale of a teenager struggling with who she was, who she is and who she thinks she wants to be. The story doesn’t glorify the reality of being arrested and the consequences of all actions that you make. While Amy is the main character, she’s by no means raised up on a pedestal because of that. She could be any teenager, rebellious & sullen, wanting to be a grown-up, but trying to make sense of her life and everyone she affects. Amy doesn’t know how to communicate with her mother without it turning into a shouting match, and her father tries but is at a loss. Don’t let the title fool you, there’s nothing “pretty” of what Amy is going through because of one misstep.
A fantastic contemporary read, Pretty Amy sets a realistic look at how friendships are tested and what can prevail.
Anna, a 30-year-old school teacher, is tired of her stagnating reThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Ratings: 4.5 / 5 stars
Anna, a 30-year-old school teacher, is tired of her stagnating relationship and takes on a summer job tutoring T.J., a teenager whose cancer is in remission. T.J.’s family is already at their summer home and he is to fly in days later with Anna when their plane crashes and they struggle to survive on a deserted island. When signs of rescue are non-existent, Anna and T.J. cope with their new island life, attempting to keep their sanity and stay nourished & hydrated. When the days, weeks and months continue to pass, the pair become less teacher and student, when they start seeing each other in a different light.
I absolutely adored this book. Once I finished it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. On the Island has a simple premise but an extremely compelling story. Initially, it was the title and how appropriate it was to my blog name that caught my interest but as soon as I started reading, I was immediately pulled into the narrative. This book could be like what would have happened on Lost if only two of them had survived! Told in alternating point of views, the reader is given both sides of the survival tale as the days go by.
My only main issue with T.J.’s POV was his excessive use of her name. I can’t imagine that if they’re the only two people on the island that he would have used her name as frequently as he did during his chapters. Almost every other sentence out of his mouth began or ended with “Anna”. Honestly, if I was stuck on a deserted island with someone who used my name that often, I’d want to change my name!
Setting that aside, Garvis-Graves lays out a beautiful tale of survival, companionship and the love that can come out of that. She tackles the subject of an older woman with a younger man with a tasteful finesse, and yet not pretending that the taboo isn’t there either. Throughout the entire book, I kept wondering if/when T.J.’s cancer would come back, what would happen if/when they were rescued and so many other variables that were so well established that either outcome could have happened at any moment. On the Island is a must-read for those who love a book with adventure, romance and the will they/won’t they type of chemistry between the characters!...more
Picking up where Bloodlines left off, Sydney is holding onto her role of AlchemistThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost...
Picking up where Bloodlines left off, Sydney is holding onto her role of Alchemist to keep the rest of the world from finding out about the existence of vampires (known as Moroi and Strigoi). While being praised by her elders, she is struggling to maintain a neutral relationship with those who have now become her friends. In trying to stay distant, she starts dating Brayden, a guy who can match her in intelligence and interests and yet Sydney distinctly notices the lack of a spark between the otherwise perfect couple. Her resistance to the magical world is pushed to its limits when she's forced to face some inhibitions and undeniable facts to save one of them.
To be honest, it took me a bit of digging through my memory to remember what had happened in the first book. I couldn't remember who was Moroi, Strigoi or Dhampir and while I like that Mead didn't do a full-on recap of the previous book, it still took a few chapters to fully get re-immersed into this world. There were some moments early on that I'm sure were a set-up for the next book, so I didn't quite get the relevance of it but it was definitely around the midway point that really picked up speed for me.
You could often see where the interactions with characters was hinting at, and while sometimes it might have been really obvious, it didn't necessarily fully detract from it either. It was a nice nod to the readers that we were in on something that the protagonist wasn't. Which leads me to the ridiculous swoon-worthy build-up of a love interest. By far, my favourite scenes from the book revolved around the tension between these two. Oh goodness, how many times I wanted to smack Sydney upside the head for her oblivious and stubborn ways.
Similar to the first book in the series, The Golden Lily has a satisfying build to an action-packed showdown. The (frustrating!) ending will leave you hanging and desperate for the third book, The Indigo Spell (due out in Feb 2013). A great follow-up to the successful first book!
Taking place mostly in Brooklyn (and coincidentally right in the neighbourhood where I was staying while I was there last week!), dancergirl is aboutTaking place mostly in Brooklyn (and coincidentally right in the neighbourhood where I was staying while I was there last week!), dancergirl is about Alicia and her friends after an online film project gets out of hand. Her friend Charlie, a budding filmmaker, shoots some intentionally voyeuristic videos of Ali (aka dancergirl) dancing, and posting them on Zube (this story’s version of Youtube) under the moniker shyboy. After a few of the videos go viral, and gaining some popularity at school, a different video pops up on Zube. One that Ali and her friends didn’t film. They soon realize that their pet project has gotten out of hand when Ali finds herself with a stalker. What ensues is a mystery-solving adventure of sorts, with the underlying cautionary tale lingering in the background.
I received the ARC of dancergirl from Netgalley and was excited to get a chance to read it before it’s release in November. This was a very enjoyable read. The main characters were well-developed, the story was well-paced and throwing in some twists and turns, it makes for a great novel. The writing is witty, causing me to actually laugh out loud at how Tanzman describes Ali’s nemesis Samantha’s eyes. Writing style notwithstanding, I love stories that have to do with dance and, as mentioned above, I found it a strange coincidence that I was just at those very locations and streets in Brooklyn last week that were mentioned in the book.
dancergirl is extremely relevant in this day and age, where young kids & teens are putting themselves out there on the internet, not realizing how much privacy they are giving up and who some of these people could be that are watching your videos. It shows that internet fame isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, coming with some grave consequences and potentially alienating yourself from the actual people around you.
A little fun fact that a fellow book blogger friend mentioned to me, regarding the author’s last name, ‘Tanz” is actually “dance” in German!
When Corinne finds the people around her suddenly acting strange, her andMy review can also be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5 stars)
When Corinne finds the people around her suddenly acting strange, her and her best friend Ang strive to find out why. Their suspicions soon turn to a mysterious box that was left for Corinne by her recently deceased grandmother. Thus begins the story of Pyxis.
The first installment in a sure-to-be captivating series, Neal has a very natural flow of writing. Her descriptive narration makes this original tale one that you won't be able to put down. The development between Corinne and her best guy friend, Mason, is a classic will-they/won't-they scenario; made all the more intriguing when he is roped into their mysterious search. The trio slowly uncovers more about all that surrounds the box and what Corinne's grandmother never had a chance to share with her before she died.
Admittedly, I was first drawn to the book because of the gorgeous cover and now upon having read it, it doesn't quite reflect what I thought the book would be about. The story is much more modern and grounded in reality than the fantasy-like cover makes it out to be - and I like that.
I received the ARC for this book from the author, K.C. Neal, in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Rory Miller is forced to go into the witness protection program afteThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
Rory Miller is forced to go into the witness protection program after she is attacked in her hometown. Taking her father and reluctant older sister, Darcy with her they settle in Juniper Landing. This quaint island town is full of chill-but-odd locals, no cell phone service and so far removed from everything going on across the water that it seems to be just what Rory and her family need to get away from the serial killer that's hunting her. That is until people around her start disappearing again and she swears that she keeps feeling like the mad man is around.
Wow. What a ride this book was. Right from the get-go, the story jumps into the action and doesn't let up until the very end. Brian keeps readers on the edge of their seat, the entire time wondering what was going on. I must have gone through so many theories about the bizarre islanders and the mental state of Rory. The suspicions were ramped up with the events that unfold and Rory's confusion matched my own.
The antics coming from Darcy were ridiculously irritating to get through though. Understanding that it's part of the story, and I'm not begrudging the author of this whatsoever. I was just really annoyed at the "sisterly" relationship between Rory & Darcy. Given their circumstances, the older sister's behaviour towards her younger sister was selfish and downright bratty.
I love a good creepy mystery and Shadowlands definitely delivers. Brian has established such a fantastic premise and despite Goodreads listing it as a "#1", I do hope this is just a standalone novel. I strongly don't believe a sequel will have the same strong effect as this one has....more
Slight spoiler warning for the books that come before The Indigo Spell since this is part of aThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Slight spoiler warning for the books that come before The Indigo Spell since this is part of a series.
In this third installment of Richelle Mead's Bloodlines series, Sydney finds herself conflicted between how she has been brought up to feel about the Moroi versus how she actually feels after a forbidden moment in the 2nd book, The Golden Lily. Her teacher has also put on the pressure for Sydney to familiarize herself more with magic, despite her inherent resistance. She is soon forced to quickly learn when her mentor reveals that there is a powerful witch that's sucking the life & power out of young witches who are unaware of the power they wield. Sydney & Adrian are tasked at tracking down the young witches to warn them before it's too late. With so many instances that are challenging Sydney's Alchemist resolve, she learns of Marcus Finch - a former Alchemist who defied the group and is now on the run. She is certain that he will hold some answers to the confusion that she's been feeling and is determined to find him.
It took me a couple chapters to reacquaint myself with the Bloodlines world since the last book, but once I got there, everything definitely came flooding back. And it was good. Mead's tension-building between Adrian and Sydney was flirtatiously delicious even though I initially found Adrian's lovesick behaviour a little bit too-much-too-soon. It made more sense as the story went on, but with the initial onslaught of all the feels from him I don't blame Sydney for being overwhelmed and confused about everything. That being said, there were some great moments between these two in this book that don't all necessarily revolve around hormones. In fact, the most memorable scene in this book with them had me actually laughing out loud. Mead's created two characters with some really great all-around chemistry.
What I really enjoyed about this 3rd book were the elements that read like a paranormal Mission: Impossible. There was corruption, espionage, and reconnaissance missions, all with a touch of magic. While I feel that sometimes magic is used as an easy plot device to just make things happen and have you believe it, it wasn't often the case with this. Yes, there were some moments that I thought it was convenient that Sydney happened to just have obtained that knowledge earlier, but overall it was fairly well-worked into the story. I'm sure the intention for the character of Ms. Terwilliger is supposed to be a mentor that's training Sydney to become her full potential but I found her to be quite self-serving and manipulative.
Nonetheless, The Indigo Spell was an exciting read, full of intrigue, passion and magic. A great action-packed 3rd installment to the Bloodlines series and, following the way the books have left off so far, the ending of this one is sure to shake things up with the fourth book, The Fiery Heart, out November 2013....more
Described as "The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, witThis review can also be found on my blog, Just a Lil Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
Described as "The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.", Darker Still is set in New York City. The year is 1882 and Natalie Stewart hasn't spoken a word since her mother died when she was 4 years old. The city is abuzz with anticipation at the acquisition of a beautiful painting of an equally beautiful man, Lord Denbury. Everyone is drawn to the very life-like painting, and Natalie begins to notice small changes in the piece of art each time she looked at it. In actuality, it is Denbury's soul that has been trapped inside the painting and he must try to get someone to help him escape.
Let me first say, what a nice refreshing change it is to have a paranormal book not be about vampires. Don't get me wrong, there definitely are some vampire stories that I've enjoyed, but I feel that market is so saturated now. Darker Still reminded me how much I love a good ol' ghost story. Told in the point-of-view of Natalie writing in her diary, the reader really gets to experience the mute world that Natalie lives, right alongside her.
Like Nancy Drew with a touch of magic, Hieber tells a familiar story with her own twist to it. The characters are well established, the writing is consistent with the time period and equally as elegantly told. I was curious as to how the story was going to wrap up, knowing that it was book 1 of a series but it definitely leaves it open for more - and I cannot wait! I honestly hadn't heard too much about the book, but I'm so glad that I picked it up. Sleeper hit of the season!
I received this eARC from Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more