Phoebe has been working towards a scholarship to USC for years. She loves to run and is good at it, but when her mother announces she is getting marri...morePhoebe has been working towards a scholarship to USC for years. She loves to run and is good at it, but when her mother announces she is getting married and they will be moving to a tiny Greek island, all Phoebe's plans get thrown out of the window. And that's not even the worst part - her new school is a secret haven for demi-God's. How exactly is she meant to compete with them?
Oh. My. Gods. is a fun, easy read - excellent if you are looking for something light with the occasional chuckle thrown in. Phoebe has an engaging voice, her wry humour keeps the mythological element very tongue-in-cheek and she has plenty of pluck and determination. Her only flaw seems to be a penchant for 'bad-boys' but she wouldn't be the first.
I really felt for Phoebe's plight at times and admired her discipline and focus. That might be why I was a little disappointed by the 'twist' at the end. I had seen it coming but I still hoped the author might resist going down such an obvious route. (view spoiler)[ The sudden discovery that Phoebe is also a demi-God kind of undermined all the effort she had put in to keep up with her fellow students, and made the significance of her 'outsider' status lose it's edge. (hide spoiler)] However, it didn't ruin it for me and overall I found Oh. My. Gods. an enjoyable break from reality.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Evie likes things pink and sparkly, she fantasises about getting a driving license, kissing a boy and going to prom - much like many teenage girls. Th...moreEvie likes things pink and sparkly, she fantasises about getting a driving license, kissing a boy and going to prom - much like many teenage girls. The only difference is that Evie is a member of the IPCA and has been since she was eight years old, using her special ability to see through paranormal glamours so that she can help bag and tag rogue vampires and werewolves.
When a shape-shifter breaks into the Centre and paranormals start being slaughtered, she begins to realise that she doesn't know as much about the world as she thought and that the IPCA could be as much a prison as a home for her.
I found the sentiments behind Paranormalcy to be refreshing different to a lot of books currently in the same genre. Instead of Evie's desire for normal teenage pursuits coming across as shallow, it shows just what she is missing out on and - dare I say it - what a lot of people take for granted (I mean - this girl gets excited about the prospect of having a school locker). Evie's voice is authentically adolescent without being irritating, her humour sarcastic but warm too. She's not perfect at anything but she tries and that makes her engaging and very likeable.
The romantic element to the book was also something that I felt was really well handled. There's an etherealy attractive male, Reth, who is morally ambiguous and stalking her and she wants that to stop. But not in your typical YA heroine's 'this-is-freaky-but-I-can't-help-myself-he's-so-sexy' kind of way. He is really creepy and she really wants him to leave her the hell alone.
Then there is Lend, the shape-shifter, who she likes a lot and wants something more to happen with. And not in a 'he's-so-gorgeous-my-obsession-with-him-is-taking-over-my-life' kind of way. Their relationship grows gradually and isn't based solely on looks. For one thing, he can change his outward appearance constantly so she can't base her opinion of him entirely on what colour his hair or eyes are. He's funny, kind and sweet and she's actually interested in seeing the real him, which I think is a lovely idea.
There are some other nice touches of originality too. I loved how vampires did not impress her in the slightest because they were actually dusty old corpses rather than eternally young and beautiful, and the prophecy and creature that is responsible for the deaths of the paranormals were not things I could easily figure out because they had no obvious reference to typical fantasy rules.
The only elements that let this down for me and stopped it from being a four star, as oppose to a three and a half star, rating, were the length and the level of description. It could have been longer, allowing for more plot development and more detailed scene setting. At the beginning, Evie bounces a lot between her room and Lend's cell. Initially, I thought that might be a way the writer was showing how claustrophobic the Centre was but as the story progressed I realised it was actually just her style of writing and I wished that more time had been taken to build the environments surrounding the characters.(less)
Caitrin is on the run from her past, which is why a job working as a scribe at the isolated Whistling Tor seems ideal - even if the place and it's Chi...moreCaitrin is on the run from her past, which is why a job working as a scribe at the isolated Whistling Tor seems ideal - even if the place and it's Chieftain are rumoured to be cursed. The villagers keep the settlement barred from outsiders and daren't ever journey up through the forest on the hill for fear of being lost forever but in her desperation Caitrin takes a risk and what she finds there is not quite what she expected.
This is a great gothic tale that really sucked me in with a deceptively fast plot and brilliantly creepy atmosphere. The moral at the heart of this story is lovely and there are a brilliant range of original characters. (view spoiler)[ Poor Fianchu - I was so gutted when he died! (hide spoiler)]
The slow building romance between Caitrin and Anluan is exactly the kind I admire, based on their gradually increasing knowledge of each other and how they help and encourage the other to grow. I felt this was more obvious with Anluan who had numerous issues to overcome - oh, how I love a good tortured hero.
I did find myself slightly frustrated that the characters didn't cotton on to a glaringly obvious plot point, though there was a hypothesis for this towards the end of the book. (view spoiler)[ As soon as Aislinn appeared in the mirror, without her face showing, it was obvious that it would be Muirne - there was only one other woman there besides Caitrin and she had been hovering over every chieftain for generations. (hide spoiler)] Plus, the point of this might have been to heighten the tension by allowing the reader to worry what would happen all the while the characters continued to be unaware of the 'presence'.
I found Caitrin's voice strangely modern sounding, which I didn't expect, and the prose could lack subtly at times but I really enjoyed it. I didn't anticipate this book being such a page-turner but every time I put it down, I found myself needing to go back to it really soon. This is a ideal novel to read when the rain is lashing at the windows and you can snuggle up in front of the fire and immerse yourself completely. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Brittany is just about maintaining the illusion of having a perfect life but it's getting harder and harder. And then her new chemistry teach...more3.5 Stars
Brittany is just about maintaining the illusion of having a perfect life but it's getting harder and harder. And then her new chemistry teacher pairs her up with Alex and makes it almost impossible. Alex is a gang member, bad through and through - hardly the ideal candidate to help her maintain her perfect GPA and get into the college of her choice. In turn, Alex sees it as an opportunity to have some fun at the expense of a rich-girl and agrees to a bet with his friends to seduce her.
There is very little scene setting in this book past that which is absolutely necessary but since this is written from the alternating first person perspectives of the main characters that is largely understandable. They are both fairly wrapped up in the drama of their lives, so whimsical descriptions of sunsets etc would probably be out of character.
Both characters have difficulties in their life which they work throughout the novel to understand and overcome. For me, it was Alex's predicament as a gang-member which gave this a slight edge out of mediocrity as I found it interesting and - towards the end - quite gripping. It made a change for the 'bad-boy' in a book to actually have some realistic substance behind his reputation - it also seemed well-researched and gave an added dimension to the social divide.
Perfect Chemistry is ideal if you are looking for a quick, easy read. The plot is standard star-crossed lover fare and therefore pretty predictable, however, that didn't stop it from being enjoyable. (less)
Ever since Grace survived being attacked by wolves when she was eleven she has been inexplicably drawn to one wolf in particular. For six years the wo...moreEver since Grace survived being attacked by wolves when she was eleven she has been inexplicably drawn to one wolf in particular. For six years the wolf with the dark-coat and yellow-eyes seems to watch over her and she watches him right back. Then there is another wolf-attack and this time a boy at school is killed. Suddenly the town of Mercy Falls is out to exterminate the wolves and an injured boy appears outside her house. A boy with black hair, yellow eyes and a lot of secrets.
I’d been circling around Shiver for a while but was put off by references to it being similar to Twilight. I was pleasantly surprised when I did get around to reading it as part of a book group. Although, yes, there is some similarity in as much as a girl and a boy fall in love and he is a supernatural creature, on the whole I believe that is where the likeness to Twilight ends. In fact, I found myself more reminded of the Time Traveller’s Wife. The central relationship is under the constant threat of loss and that makes for an unashamedly romantic story.
Sam is a sweet, sad and lovely character and Grace has a genuine sense of independence and originality often lacking in YA heroines. Though the supernatural events move the plot along and provide the action, ultimately it is the main characters relationship that is the best thing. I’ve heard some people say that the language has too much purple prose and admittedly, I found Sam’s song lyrics a little cringe-worthy, but overall I felt the style was quite poetic and conjured up an atmospheric setting.
Shiver definitely won’t be to everyone’s taste but I really enjoyed it and look forward to seeing where the series takes the characters next in Linger. (less)
North America has been wrecked by natural and man-made disasters, transformed into a single country called Panem, split into twelve districts presided...moreNorth America has been wrecked by natural and man-made disasters, transformed into a single country called Panem, split into twelve districts presided over by the Capitol. As a symbol of the Capitol's power, to ensure that the districts never forget the consequences of the last rebellion that took place, a tournament called the Hunger Games is held every year. Two children, a girl and a boy, aged between twelve and eighteen must participate in a fight to the death where there can only be one victor. When Katniss Everdeen's younger sister Prim is selected by the ceremonial lottery, she immediately volunteers to take her place and joins Peeta Mellark, the other tribute from District 12.
The Hunger Games is a tidal wave that swept me along with it's vivid action and gut-wrenching suspense. The pace and plotting is pitch perfect, knowing just when to let up on the brutality without ever letting the tension disappear entirely. Collins was brave in creating a heroine like Katniss, who is utterly capable, believable and - by her own admission - not necessarily 'nice'. She has moments of tenderness and kindness but ultimately she is a survivor and she will do whatever it takes to get back to her family who rely on her. As such, rather than feeling sympathy for her, because she is so independent and strong, I felt empathy, which is probably the better of the two.
Things are complicated by Katniss's relationship with Peeta, a boy who she not only feels she owes, but also does not know whether to trust. I felt this was another brave writing decision on Collins part - in a climate where YA novels are very 'romance' focussed - Katniss is confused about her feelings for Peeta and the motivation for her own actions towards him. This adds an additional level of authenticity to the Hunger Games because really, who could make sense of anything like that if they were facing death at every turn?
The only thing that stopped me from giving this five stars was that I felt the full potential of the dystopian set-up and satire had not been fully reached. The points were being made but the action was so intense it almost eclipsed it. However, as soon as I finished reading the Hunger Games, I straight away ordered the remaining two books in the series because I was sure that, with story-telling this powerful and accomplished, there would be much more to come. I was not wrong. (less)
The E-Myth is a how-to/help guide for diagnosing the problems with small businesses and how to begin to solve them.
I was sent this by a business cons...moreThe E-Myth is a how-to/help guide for diagnosing the problems with small businesses and how to begin to solve them.
I was sent this by a business consultant who felt the IT company myself and my partner run is falling into the pitfalls described in this book - and in a way it is. However, I wouldn't say that reading the E-Myth was a eureka moment, which suddenly made me realise what we have to do in order to grow our business (because that is our issue, rather than simply running it).
It breaks down a lot of things which most people already know because they are common sense, but of course seeing it in a linear format is always useful. In other words it helps you to see the wood from the trees.
The book is massively over-written, repetitive and I have to say the tone was irritating. The notes I took managed to streamline the ideas and suggestions from the E-Myth into approximately 2000 words and the narrative of the author's meeting with Sarah was unnecessary and sometimes, dare I say it, nauseating.
Overall, this book is helpful and contains some good guidelines for getting a business into order and focusing the direction you are going in. However, I think it would be of most use for consumer based businesses, (hair-dressers, bakeries, hotels etc) as not all of the theories fit for business to business ventures and if you do decide to buy it, consider skim-reading to save yourself some time.(less)