Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: Melody Bittersweet and the Girls' Ghostbusting Agency

10/10 for Melody and the Girls' Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French

Life’s tough for Melody Bittersweet.

She’s single, addicted to sugar and super heroes, her family are officially bonkers, and she sees dead people. Is it any wonder no-one’s swiping right on Tinder?
Waking up lonely on her twenty seventh birthday, Melody finally snaps. She can’t carry on basing all of her life decisions on the advice of her magic 8 ball; things have got to change.

Fast forward two months, and she’s now the proud proprietor of her very own ghostbusting agency - kind of like in the movies but without the dodgy white jumpsuits. She’s also flirting with her ex Leo Dark, fraternising with her enemy in alleyways, and she’s somehow ended up with a pug called Lestat.

Life just went from dull to dynamite and it’s showing no sign of slowing up anytime soon. Melody’s been hired to clear Scarborough House of its incumbent ghosts, there’s the small matter of a murder to solve, and then there’s the two very handsome, totally inappropriate men hoping to distract her from the job…

Welcome to Chapelwick, home of the brand new and hilarious Girls Ghostbusting Agency series, where things really do go bump in the night.
Source: Goodreads

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

Kitty, or Kat, French, is quickly climbing my top 5 of favourite authors. She has a talent for creating not only quirky and unique characters but also stories with the same qualities! Kitty French doesn't only follow her own way, she paves her own damn yellow brick road!

When we meet Melody Bittersweet at the end of her date ad the odds of sex almost literally pushed of the table by her eccentric grandmother, it sets the tone quite quickly.
Melody has just turned 27 and as she evaluates her life (single, eating her best friend's nonna's biscuits, and seeing dead people) she decides to do something of her own. She starts her own business. The Girls' Ghostbusting Agency provides a service to those who need it: unwanted ghosts or ghosts unable to move on.
Together with her best friend Marina and their newest member Artie, they are ready to rumble.

They find their first case on television. Let's ignore the fact that their case is already being handled and by none other than the notorious Leo Dark, and that Melody is slightly stalked by the annoying reporter Fletcher Gunn. You'd think that's enough to keep you entertained?
Throw in three or so more ghosts, a temperamental heir and a murder mystery.
That not enough?
Then I'm not sure what would be ;)

These characters are well developed in it that they each have a specific personality and background. They are diverse and some of them are ridiculously hot! I have loved spending time with them and reading about them. Some of them are completely bonkers, like Melody's grandmother who keeps her dead husband's ghost in her bedroom.

The story, as I mentioned before, has something in it for everyone and was an absolute pleasure to read. Not once during the entire story did I feel like I wanted it to move along already. There are so many things I want to tell you all about but I wouldn't want to ruin it, so I'll just invite you to also read it.
You'll find that this one ticks off many of your 'things I like' boxes and possibly exceeds them.

All I can say is that it's been a blast and I can't wait for book number 2!

Also check out my review for Kat French's book The Piano Man Project

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book Review: Panic

7,5/10 for Panic by Lauren Oliver
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do. 
Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought. 
Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for. 
For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

Source: Goodreads

Panic is a game played in the little village Carp, NY. It's played by the high school seniors and there can only be one winner.
The game feeds off, you guessed it, fear; people's fear. And if you fail a challenge then you're out.
Heather, Dodge and Nathalie are three participants supported by their friend Bischop.
Bischop doesn't want his friends to enter, he thinks the game is stupid and wouldn't want his friends, especially Heather, to be hurt.
We follow Heather and Dodge in their journey as they learn about every topic in the YA shelf (confidence, love, family, , friendship, values, etc....) during the game and the decisions they make.

Considering the title  I had expected the fame to be featured more in the story (like 70%). There were definitely parts all about the game and it was always lurking in the background or on people's minds and influencing their behaviour. I missed the thrill and tension you should experience as a reader when it comes to a game like this.

I struggled a little to click with the characters too. I felt they were a little bit too manufactured. I know that when you would strip ever YA to their frame they all sort of have the same basis but this time I really picked up on it. Almost as if they had to tick off a list of character traits.
Lauren Oliver is a magnificent writer, I love her stories but this one feels a little too much like a 'Roll the dice' story with a set of given plot points. Even the small plot twist wasn't really a twist at all (her clever hinting had given it away too soon).

It wasn't until the final challenge that for one chapter I got to feel the tension that I had craved so much but then I reached the next one and it all became mellow again, which was such a shame. I really felt like that chapter was totally unnecessary.

I guess I had just expected this book  to be balanced differently that it was and that's where I tripped.
However, the writing is still of great quality and the characters had growth without too many loose strings and there was even a moral - though that felt a bit forced and unnatural. If you're looking for the next Hunger Games (I wasn't but I saw people comparing it to HG, making me think many people would pick it up just for that reason) then this isn't it, I"m afraid.

Panic is its own story about a boy and a girl growing up within a mad game and realising what's important to them.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Book Review: Always With Love

7/10  for Always With Love by Giovanna Fletcher

The next much-anticipated romantic chapter in Billy and Sophie's love story from bestselling author Giovanna Fletcher.

Sophie's got used to being the girlfriend of Billy Buskin, the biggest movie star in the world. Sort of.

But when she and Billy take a trip to visit his family in Los Angeles, she quickly discovers she's totally unprepared for the chaos of Hollywood, the paparazzi and Billy's controlling mother.

And when Billy extends his stay in LA, leaving Sophie to fly home to Rosefont Hill alone, it seems there's more than just miles between them.

Now Sophie must decide if they can overcome their differences for good. Because not every love story lasts the distance . . .Source: Goodreads

It's nice to see Giovanna Fletcher grow with every book she writes. Just like her characters, she's evolved :D

In Always With Love we reunite with Sophie and Billy in the cosy village of Rosefont Hill. Having found their own little dynamic with living together and working in the shop, they seem happier than ever.
After so much time spent in England a trip to LA and meet Billy's family is inevitable. Sophie, usually full of anxiety at new things, is excited and nervous.
She finds herself enjoying being around this family of Buskins who are so different from her own little family in England. But when the emotions are rising and Billy's motther starts meddling, tension grows between the pair.

Eventually decisions are made and Billy stays in LA a little longer while Sophie goes back to England. They try to continue their life and keep up regular contact when removed so many miles from each other. Communicating not only through phone calls and texting, but also romantic love letters. 
Yet Sophie fails on many occasions to put her overthinking mind to rest and anxiety gets the most of her at different moments during Billy's absence.
While planning the wedding of the year and having found an extra hand to help in the shop Sophie also realizes that Rosefont Hill is her home and where she wants to stay but is that what Billy wants too?

Always With Love is the sequel that follows up Billy and Me (and the novella Christmas with Billy and Me). You can easily read this story as a standalone though, as most information is cleverly given within this book too, allowing both old and new readers to have a recap of the situation and the events leading to where the couple is now.
This book was a charm to read. I love Sophie and Billy together! And I have a big soft spot for Billy in general.
The story is split in four parts, breaking up the significant story plots in easy sections.
Though I've found that I struggled with part three for a few reasons. One of them being that Sophie was at the best of times having a few very irrational thoughts. I didn't mind at first but then there were other moments where she pushed it a little too far. I also felt like there was a bit too much of a repetition of certain worries. It almost felt like 'filling up of pages' because it needed to reach a certain page count. I know that probably wasn't the case but certain sections in part three definitely felt unnecessary. But it was just a minor nugget that - when I wanted the story to pick up and start coming together - bothered me a little.

Aside from that there was plenty of romance, love, friendship and happiness. Something Giovanna always has plenty of in her books. The fact I've just finished it and am still buzzing with gooey feelings, speaks for itself!

I've read this novel with a lot of pleasure and, also, as always, with love.