Review: Hybrid by K. T. Hanna

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As Sai recovers from her life-threatening injuries, she struggles to piece together her damaged relationship with Dom. He fights the parasite within, suddenly freed from the interference of the other Dominos in his head.

Inside Central, Bastian’s Shine dosing has become a dangerous dance. Enhanced security protocols and endless meetings have him on a tightrope, with little room to move without revealing himself.

When the GNW release the Damascus to begin their systemic hunt of the Exiled, the noose closes around the rebels and their allies. If they can’t disable the threat, the Exiled won’t be the Damascus’ only agenda.

I’m SO excited this book is finally here! If you haven’t read Chameleon (the first one) go ahead and check out my review here. I’ll wait. Done? Good. Also, you’re crazy. Chameleon is awesome, get on that shit.

Back to my fangirling.

Heat/Swoon Levels:

Ahhh… negative digits? Haha. But that’s a good thing! The MC, Sai, ended up in a whole world of trouble at the conclusion of Chameleon and the first quarter of the book focuses around her recovery and return to the badass she was. Once she’s up and about again, she’s in the middle of preparing for a fricken war. There were some really cute moments between her and Dom but I’m only shipping friendship there. Anything else would be… weird. There were a load of ‘A+’s for friendship.

I’m also still hardcore in love with Bastian.

Plot Pacing and Resolution:

Hybrid has a lot of build, which I loved. KT didn’t rush to get to the action, instead, she gave us a minute to jump back in Sai’s head, reminded us of the amazing world she built in Chameleon, and then introduced us to a way freaky side of Dom (one of my favourite parts of the book). It’s not until the announcement of the Damascus release that the book takes off.

As for the end, it’s another cliff hanger. And man it’s a good one! For literally every character.

Character Relatability:

Hugs! Hugs all around! And damn do they need it! Don’t get me wrong, Sai gets some personal ‘wins’ but otherwise the war is an overdose of bad news. I love that Sai just gets on with it though. There are a few instances where she doubts herself but she doesn’t spend the whole time moping around. She tests her strengths, deals with the knock backs, and tries her hardest to be a good leader.

My love of Bastian carries over from the first book because unfortunately, we don’t get to see a huge amount from him. He’s still out there, risking everything, for the Exiled who are all like ‘oh him, that’s right. He’s still there’. Dom, and occasionally Sai, (and me!) are the only ones who actually seem concerned about his welfare. Jerks.

Last mention goes to Aishke. She grows a lot in this instalment and has turned from a surly (for good reason) teen into a sweetie pie. I love her.

And of course it’s those three who suffer most at the end.

So buy, read. Go, now!

AOaR_4star (3)

(and a half)

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Heather talks, eats and thinks way too fast, and writes way too slow. She still recovering from her son turning one and is convinced ‘dying of cuteness’ is a thing. See her tweet here.

Review: This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

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When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five.

But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules. He certainly doesn’t seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can’t seem to shake him.

Could it be that Remy’s starting to understand what those love songs are all about?

This book was recommended to me, and for the first chapter or so, I really wasn’t buying it. What the heck was my friend thinking? Why was Sarah Dessen such a big deal? What was wrong with me that I wasn’t in love already, dammit?

I’m so glad I stuck around and read on because it was amazing!

Heat/swoon levels:

Remy (the MC) goes through a couple of guys during the course of the book, in a totally normal way. I loved that she was written as a completely normal teen with a shaky past when it came to guys, and she wasn’t treated like she was diseased. She acknowledged her past was pretty shitty but moved on from it and it was never made into a ‘huge deal’. And then Dexter came along and I fell in love with his curly hair, and loping walk. Those two were such perfect opposites they fit together seamlessly. Every scene with them together built up the next, and I was reading on obsessing over when he would next grace the pages.

I just wanted more of this:

Plot pacing and resolution:

As I’ve already said, the beginning took patience. There was a lot of character set up, and over-explaining of things that were obviously going to be important later on. But the two main plots–Remy and Dexter’s relationship, and her mother’s new marriage–carried you through the story. It was pretty obvious where both relationships were headed but the way they got there broke the predictability.

I loved how the marriage storyline wound up, and I really wish there had been more satisfaction with Remy and Dexter’s relationship. It ends, and there’s a sense of closure the the storyline, but I wanted Dessen to do SO much more with it!

Character relatability:

This is the part that gets a huge thumbs up from me. The characters carried the story and the way Dessen played with conflict between the relationships was amazing. There were a lot of characters–way more than you’d expect–but even with the plethora of secondary character they were all fleshed out and discernible from each other. From Jess and Chloe’s rocky friendship, to Remy’s obsessive organisation, to her Remy’s mother’s multiple marriages and extreme hope that each one will be better than the next. The characters don’t only exist within Remy’s world. There is a real feeling that while you’re not actively reading about them, they’re just out there getting on with their lives.

I loved every one of them.

The only downer I can really mention is I wanted to see way more at the end from Remy and Dexter. To be clear, it wasn’t needed for the story to be wrapped up, but after all the waiting and build up I don’t think it’s asking too much to be thrown a few cute snuggles.

AOaR_4star (3)

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Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

I’ve seen loads of people raving about how much they loved this book, and as I’m on a bit of a contemporary binge at the moment I grabbed it as soon as it released. I loved the cover, I loved the title, I was ready to jump in.

Heat/swoon levels:

Now, despite how ‘Dumplin’ sees and describes herself (far more self-critically than her fiends/LIs), there are two love interests and thankfully there’s no ‘teen-angst-who-do-I-choose’ business. There’s one clear winner, and while Dumplin tries to convince herself she’s not good enough for him, we all know where it’s headed.

Despite her multi-suitor situation, there really is low heat/swoon levels which kind sucked because Bo really could have been a full-on literary love for me. I enjoyed reading more about Dumplin’s friendships than the boys.

Plot pacing and resolution:

Was a highlight. The book was sweet, and had a ‘love yourself as you are’ message. There were no crazy twists and turns but each event flowed neatly to the next. It was a cute read, but there was one major thing missing at the end that I’m disappointed wasn’t revealed. I get why it was done, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. Like, it was the one thing I was waiting for!

Character relatability:

This was HUGE! The voice was the reason I kept reading. Dumplin is witty and sarcastic and while she’s quite cynical about a lot of things, there is an overwhelming positivity to her as well. Her self confidence, and her journey to rediscovering it, was what kept me turning pages.

But Dumplin’ wasn’t the only standout and while I could name EVERY side character, and why I loved them, it would take me way too long. There are so many and each of them are special little snowflakes in their own right. There was never a time when I was confused who was who, or when they melted into each other, because so much care was taken to giving them individual characteristics.

The downer:

Okay, I enjoyed this book, I did! And while I was reading it, I couldn’t wait to get back to it and finish it off. But for me, it’s a ‘read once and be satisfied’ kind of book. That said, I’m glad I read it that one time.

AOaR_3star (3)

(and a half)

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Review: ‘Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography’ by Neil Patrick Harris

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Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?

Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born in New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life, you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, but make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!

I remember reading Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid, and dog-earing pages when I made decisions, so that I could go back to the last fork in the road if the one I chose didn’t work out for the best. Since I am now opposed to dog-earing pages, I don’t know how I’d have handled reading this autobiography. Lots of bookmarks, maybe?

Fortunately for me, I listened to the audiobook instead, and it was sooooo worth it. For a start, Neil Patrick Harris does the reading, and he’s as a great a voice actor as he is any other kind of actor. Secondly, instead of including transcripts of different moments, the audiobook includes a few actual recordings instead, including of Neil giving a speech on optimism when he’s a young teen, and a chapter with some gorgeous interjections by his husband, David.

The story still jumps around a bit, because instead of choosing to skip ahead or back (which would have been impractical when I was driving), Neil just advises you to “keep listening” or “wait a bit”, or says “we talked about that already”. The made-up parts of the book are clearly fake — he dies in gruesome ways that become eerily familiar at least four or five times — but they are hilarious. Also included are magic tricks, recipes and different celebrities’ anecdotes.

I don’t often laugh or externally emote when I’m reading (or listening to) a book. That’s why books that make me cry are few and far between. So are books that make me actually LOL. But this book had me laughing constantly. It is also touching and sweet and made me naww more than once.

Another thing that was really interesting about the memoir was hearing Neil’s own, gradual discovery of his sexuality. He describes himself as not so much being in the closet as being unaware of his sexuality; he was a rather asexual teen, and then thought he was bisexual for a while. Eventually (some time after his first sexual encounter with a male), he realised he was straight-up gay.

No pun intended.

Seriously, you guys. Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography is one of my favourite reads of the year.

Parental advisory: This book has swears, and talk of drinking, drugs and sex, both gay and straight. It’s not full on, but it’s there. In case you’re bothered by such things.

AOaR_5star (3)

Cassandra Page is an urban fantasy author with a forever-unrequited crush on Neil Patrick Harris. But she’ll soldier on.

Cassandra Page

YA Review: Let It Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson

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find it on Goodreads || Book World 

An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today’s bestselling authors – John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle – bring all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

Oh a cute fluffy romance about snow and Christmas.
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I read Let It Snow because I LOVE John Green. I’m not sad I read it…but I’m definitely underwhelmed. It’s 3 short stories, but they still all connect. So it’s like ONE book but in 3 parts with 3 POV.

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STORY 1: The Jubilee Express narrated by Jubilee (author Maureen Johnson)

This is my FAVOURITE. It’s definitely 4-star worthy. I loved how cute and witty and wonderful Jubilee was. Her voice is fantastic and I’m 100% sold on Maureen Johnson’s writing (I’m going to look up more of her books. This is the most quirky. When I finished it, I felt so enthused for the rest!

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STORY 2: A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle narrated by Tobin (author John Green)

Colour me disappointed. I expected a lot from John Green….but this? To be honest, I was bored. The dialogue and banter were A+, as usual. The problem was…there wasn’t much. Most of the story was just telling about them driving and getting stuck in snow. *yawn* I really wanted more banter. The romance here is cute, though, and shippable. 3-stars

STORY 3: Tdepressedhe Patron Saint of Pigs narrated by Addie (author Lauren Myracle)

This was the worst. (I guess it’s just all going downhill?) I disliked the narrator, but then, to be fair…I was supposed to see how unlikable and self-centered she was. THAT WAS THE POINT. But it didn’t make me very enthused at all. I just wanted her story to end. Meh.

It’s 100% fluffy and all very romantic!

If you need a quirky, light and happy Christmas read: I’ve got you covered. Sure, maybe it goes downhill in my opinion, but I’m a bit of a fluffy-romance-Grinch. I totally say try this one! I prefer my contemporary to have less fluff and more humour and snappy dialogue.

AOaR_2star (3)

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Cait is having a writing-break after the exhausting sprint that is NaNoWriMo! She plans to start editing in January when it’s too hot to do anything else but melt. Find her at her new blog Paper Fury or on twitter.