Matched - Ally Condie

Synopsis: For Cassia, nothing is left to chance-not what she will eat, the job she will have, or the man she will marry. In Matched, the Society Officials have determined optimal outcomes for all aspects of daily life, thereby removing the “burden” of choice. When Cassia’s best friend is identified as her ideal marriage Match it confirms her belief that Society knows best, until she plugs in her Match microchip and a different boy’s face flashes on the screen. This improbable mistake sets Cassia on a dangerous path to the unthinkable-rebelling against the predetermined life Society has in store for her. As author Ally Condie’s unique dystopian Society takes chilling measures to maintain the status quo, Matched reminds readers that freedom of choice is precious, and not without sacrifice.-Seira Wilson

Review: I’ve found myself really getting into dystopian YA novels of late, and Matched was up there with the best of them.

The way the story was set up was great, it really didn’t take me many pages to understand the world that Cassia lives in and how The Society rules their whole lives, watching and controlling their every move.

People are told what to wear, how to dress, given meals that are controlled portions and calories, told how to exercise, what jobs they will have, where they will live, what possessions they own… it just goes on and on. They are most importantly, told who to love. They are “matched” with another person who they become wed to, and then they are told when they can have children and how many.

Cassia is different. She was matched to her best friend Xander, who we find to be a cute lovable character. But when she is checking the microdisk of data to read his background story she is shocked to see someone else’s face as her match - it’s not Xander, it’s Ky Markham - another boy she knows.

Cassia dares to break the rules and dares to love Ky even though this is strictly forbidden. After all, she’s been matched to Xander.. who she loves as well.

I loved these characters so much. Ally Condie did such an amazing job with expressing the emotions that run through this story - and there is a lot of emotion in it as well. Her writing style is absolutely beautiful and the story just flowed so well. I kept finding myself wanting to read more when I was at work, and waiting to continue into the story killed me. lol

I don’t want to compare stories, and so I won’t. But I will say that I think fans of The Hunger Games would really enjoy this book. Both are dystopian stories where the districts/people in the township are severely controlled and restricted and there’s themes of fighting back or rebelling.

It was an absolutely compelling story, and I am really looking forward to reading the sequel Crossed which is due out in November this year and will be the second book in this trilogy.

Rating: 5 out of 5

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Synopsis: Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s…moreWinning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

Review: I tried to read this book and got through 15 pages the first time… I couldn’t grasp that it wasn’t set in the here and now (which didn’t help that I was reading Jodi Picoult books before hand) and really didn’t give the book a chance if I am honest. And there is a lesson to be learnt here for us all…… because I loved this book SO much when I picked it back up and tried again. And honestly, I am glad I did because this book was a little gem! The book had a story line similar to the movie Battle Royale for those of you who have seen it. The idea was that the games would be filled with 2 people from each of the 12 districts, so 24 youths under 18 fighting it out to the death inside giant “game” arena.

As terrifying as the idea of it sounds, it wasn’t as gruesome as one would think to read. There was adventure and certainly a lot of action, but most importantly the biggest appeal of this book is the relationships formed. The relationships between Katniss and Gale, Peter, Rue, Hamitch and Primrose these are the things that you keep coming back for.

An instant page turner, I read this then moved straight on to the sequel and the third book in the series. And actually got sad when it was finished. I went from a skeptic to loving it. I think this book has a little bit of something to offer to many people, and even though it is aimed at young adults, you really don’t need to be one to enjoy this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

House Rules - Jodi Picoult

Synopsis: House Rules is about Jacob Hunt, a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject – in his case, forensic analysis.

He’s always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do…and he’s usually right. But then one day his tutor is found dead, and the police come to question him. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger’s – not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, inappropriate affect – can look a heck of a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel — and suddenly, Jacob finds himself accused of murder. House Rules looks at what it means to be different in our society, how autism affects a family, and how our legal system works well for people who communicate a certain way – but lousy for those who don’t.

Review: This was my VERY first experience with any Jodi Picoult book. This is the book that sparked my love of all of her other books, and for that alone I am very thankful!

What can I say about this book? I absolutely loved Jacob’s character. Loved him. I wanted to just reach out and hug him (even though he wouldn’t let me!). My boyfriend’s son also has Asperger’s Syndrome - same as Jacob. Thankfully my boyfriend’s son has it on a much milder scale than Jacob. But even so, there was a few things in this book that just felt right and clicked with me. She really has done so much research with her books. This was so accurate.

I thought it was just so cute the way he would watch his forensic crime shows on TV time and time again and have his notepad full of facts he has written about the show. I loved reading from his perspective. It felt so innocent, and at times so gorgeous. It did help give me a better understanding of how literal everything is with someone suffering from AS.

This book also was home to my favourite quote ever. It hit me when I read it, and I still love it now:
“When you lose someone, it feels like the hole in your gum when a tooth falls out. You can chew, you can eat, you have plenty of other teeth, but your tongue keeps going back to that empty place, where all nerves are still a little raw.”

You should read this book. :)

Rating: 5 out of 5

Handle With Care - Jodi Picoult

Things break all the time.
Day breaks, waves break, voices break.
Promises break.
Hearts break.

Every expectant parent will tell you that they don’t want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they’d been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of “luckier” parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it’s all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She’s smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.

Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow’s illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?

Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Handle with Care brings us into the heart of a family bound by an incredible burden, a desperate will to keep their ties from breaking, and, ultimately, a powerful capacity for love. Written with the grace and wisdom she’s become famous for, beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult offers us an unforgettable novel about the fragility of life and the lengths we will go to protect it.

Review: Another brilliantly written book by Jodi Picoult. I don’t think she has written anything bad if I am honest. That being said, this was probably the saddest and hardest Picoult book I have read so far. Reading about all of the bone breaks little Willow has has to endure, and the sadness and loneliness that Amelia (Willow’s sister) feels when Willow is constantly in the forefront of her mothers mind. This was such a sad and real book.

Any Jodi Picoult book you read will always have the same type of format, I think it’s fair to say. She is the queen of the Topical Novel! Each book is based on something that people may consider a controversial issue, or a moral dilemma and she presents both sides through the perspectives of the characters affected in the book. Inevitably, her books always end up in a court room, whether one party sues the other (as happens in Handle With Care) or someone is arrested for breaking the law, and we are presented with that case.

She has this amazing way of making you question what you thought you always believed in. Me for instance, with this book, initially thought Charlotte was completely in the wrong for suing her own best friend. I was gobsmacked. But as the book progressed, and I heard both sides, my opinion softened. I thought, well maybe I can see why she’s done that. These revelations happen EVERY time I read another of her books.

The one major let down for me in this book, and the reason it’s not rated 5 stars is the ending. Wow. It was SO disappointing. And I won’t ruin the book for those who haven’t read it. But I just was left asking.. Why would you do that? Why would you end it like that after everything that has just happened in this book? Argh! Again… disappointing. The rest of the book was amazing though. So I don’t want people to feel dissuaded from reading it based on the ending ALONE. Give the book a chance, the rest is really very good.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Fallen - Lauren Kate

Synopsis: There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret … even if it kills her.

Review: I went into this book without really knowing all that much about it admittedly. The start of it was kinda on the slow side, but I appreciate it was a gradual build to help you understand the characters. By the middle though I was turning pages so quickly… I was just like a sponge lapping up the story.

I really like Luce… her naivety and honesty reminds me of me in ways, so maybe that was why I felt drawn to her. I love the whole feud between Cam and Daniel too, and ALMOST made me feel reminiscent of the whole Edward/Jacob thing with Twilight, but perhaps on a different sort of intensity. I also really liked Adrienne’s character, I thought she added something bolder that Luce’s character didn’t give me.

Good for a light read, I was pleasantly surprised. I went into this book with no expectations though. I think if I’d have read it based on others recommendations on how good it was, I may have been disappointed slightly. It was good, it wasn’t amazing, but I will say I enjoyed the read, and liked the story lines. I’m reading the sequel Torment now if that’s any indication of how I feel about the series! :)

Rating: 3 out of 5

Divergent - Veronica Roth

Synopsis: In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Review: This was such a long awaited book for me! As soon as it became available for purchase on ebooks on I was there!

I am still reeling from this read… the end just left me so hungry for more - I so wish I didn’t have to wait until 2012 for the sequel because this has just left me hanging (in a good way!).

I absolutely love the dystopian Chicago that Veronica sets the book in. Humans have been categorized into 5 different types of people (the following all comes from Veronica Roth’s website - I am not taking credit, but this best summarizes):

“Faction 1 - DAUNTLESS: fearless, undaunted.
Undaunted: courageously resolute, especially in the face of danger or difficulty; not discouraged.

It’s those two definitions (fearless, and undaunted) that I found so fascinating. Being fearless and being undaunted are two different things. And the characters in DIVERGENT struggle with that distinction.

Faction 2 - ABNEGATION: 1. to refuse or deny oneself (some rights, conveniences, etc.); reject; renounce.
2. to relinquish; give up

I like the verbs in that one: refuse, deny, reject, renounce-active forms of stripping things from your life. As opposed to relinquish, give up- more passive.

Faction 3 - ERUDITE: characterized by great knowledge; learned or scholarly

The word “erudite” focuses on knowledge rather than intelligence- intelligence being something you’re born with, and can’t necessarily control, and knowledge being something that you acquire. I find that interesting, given what I know about Erudite.

Faction 4 - CANDOR: 1. the state or quality of being frank, open, and sincere in speech or expression; candidness.
2. freedom from bias; fairness; impartiality.

That definition definitely helped me flesh out Candor more, particularly in the second book. The faction is not just trying to develop honesty- they’re also trying to develop impartiality.

Faction 5 - AMITY: 1. friendship; peaceful harmony.
2. mutual understanding and a peaceful relationship, especially between nations; peace; accord.
3. cordiality

It’s not just about banjos and apple-picking. It’s about cultivating strong relationships and trying to understand each other. Oh, Amity.”
I can not stress how big this series is going to be. Think Hunger Games… and maybe bigger. This is the first book of the next major dystopian trilogy.. I would not be surprised if this gets picked up for a movie also, in fact I would love it to become a movie!

The whole world is set up and laid out for you… I could picture everything as it happened, it was written so beautifully and fluid.

The characters! My favourite!

Written from the perspective of Beatrice (Tris as she becomes known), I absolutely found myself so drawn to her. She is everything I love in a lead female character. She is vulnerable when we need her to be, she shows such resilience and strength at times as well. She goes through the gauntlet of emotions and she fears real things. She’s not perfect, but we love her for this.

And Four… Wow. He is amazing. He is this tough strong guy, but when we get to know his character and understand him, he has so many surprises and layers that I personally didn’t see coming. I am SO conscious of giving away anything that I actually think I am going to leave it there. I might do a spoiler review someday. lol

Peter is so evil! And Molly too! I love that we have villains in this book too. ARGH don’t want to spoil! :)

I know so many people have this book on their to be read list. Please read it now! And let me know what you thought of the book below in the comments section as well.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Die For Me - Amy Plum

Synopsis: My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything.

Suddenly, my sister, Georgia, and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent.

Mysterious, sexy, and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies . . . immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

While I’m fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart—as well as my life and my family’s—in jeopardy for a chance at love?

Review: Before I go into my review, I just want to say how much I absolutely loved this cover! Isn’t it gorgeous? It caught my eye that’s for sure, and suckered me into reading this book (which was a good thing)!

This book is set in beautiful France. Kate and her sister Georgia’s parents died leaving them orphans, so they moved from the USA to France to live with their grandparents.

I love Kate’s character. For me, she was easy to relate to in the sense that she was an introvert, she loves nothing more than reading in a cafe, and she’s written in a way you can believe. She is so depressed and overcome with grief at the start and then we start to see this girl emerge who is strong and her guard is falling…

It is in France that Kate meets a tall handsome man - Vincent. But he isn’t all he seems. He is a Revenant - which to tell you what that is I think would be spoiling the fun of finding out, so I am being intentionally vague here! Vincent is such an interesting character. He appears suave and confident, but he is so vulnerable to Kate and would do anything for her. I am in love with this character!

This story starts off explaining the situation the girls find themselves in, and takes the time to set the mood. It’s not a slow start, because the overall story is important. It’s told right though. The story builds and builds into this crescendo finish where we are given a major action scene (which I was so absorbed in by the way!).

Happy to see that this is the first book in the Revenants Series, and it leaves on a note where you know we’re going to be seeing more of Kate and Vincent and I am so looking forward to that! Highly recommend this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Delirium - Lauren Oliver

Synopsis: Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love — the deliria — blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Review: I really just was wanting to read the first paragraph to sus it out.. I was reading another book at the time. And this book literally had me sucked in from that first paragraph onwards. I wanted to know what was going to happen, and with each page turn more and more would happen to make me hungry for answers. It was really that good.

We meet Lena who is the main character. A young girl just shy of 18 who lives in this controlled futuristic society of Portland. Love has been declared a disease, and a cure has been created. In this society, everyone is “cured” when they turn 18 - they aren’t susceptible to love.

Lena when we meet her is a believer in her society and what it stands for and its rules. She wants so much to be cured, so her heart is never in jeopardy of being hurt and she is looking forward to being matched to her future husband also. Hana, Lena’s best friend is more skeptical and more rebellious and questions things and wants more.

Enter Alex, a handsome boy that Lena spots at her evaluations and keeps bumping into. Alex isn’t who he appears to be. Lena finds herself falling more and more for him… and tries to fight an inner battle between what the rules are, what she’s been bought up to believe and what she finds herself wanting deep down. She’s scared of this delirium, of getting the “sickness” but the more time she spends with Alex, the less she finds herself caring.

The end left me on a cliffhanger… my jaw left open. I am not even going to go there, readers of my reviews know I am big on no spoilers, but PLEASE read this book if you have not. And then email me your thoughts! ;) lol

This is the first Lauren Oliver book I have read, and I adored her writing style, it was so fluid and left me wanting more. I am so very much looking forward to the sequel in this series, Pandemonium which is scheduled for release February 2012 sometime and the third book in the series Requiem. This is set to be an absolutely amazing series.

Rating:5 out of 5

City Of Bones - Cassandra Clare

Synopsis: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder - much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing - not even a smear of blood - to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know….

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

Review: So many people had asked me if I read read this book and when I said no, I was told I “had to”. I had looked it up on Goodreads first to see what it was all about and the first thing I noticed was mixed reviews. People either loved it or they absolutely hated it, very little in between.

Personally? I loved it. The book is written in third person, but looking through the perspective of Clary. I felt the book explained itself well, it didn’t assume you already knew what nephalism was, it didn’t assume anything. But it also didn’t treat you like you were stupid. The stories the characters told about the Downworlders were detailed enough that it told you what you needed to know, but not too much that it was overwhelming.

I absolutely loved the characters Jace and Simon, I loved the sarcasm, quick wit and vulnerability at times shown by both of these guys at different times throughout the book.

I didn’t really feel the love for Clary’s character. And in hindsight I am really not sure why since the book was basically through her perspective and she seemed like sensible enough young lady. But there was not really too much of a connection built with her in this book I feel. This could perhaps change of course as the series progresses, with City of Bones being the first book in the Mortal Instruments series. If I may use a comparison…I know with Twilight, I felt like I knew Bella so well.. I just didn’t get that with Clary, but I wanted it. I am going to be patient and hope that comes.

I loved how this story progresses throughout the book and here and there little bits and pieces all come together until at the end BAM you know everything about Clary’s family. It was a bit shocking (and I don’t want to spoil, so for those of you who have read it, I am hoping you know what I am referring to).

I cannot deny this book had me drawn in, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I am definitely going to continue with the other books in the series. And I am angry with myself for not reading this earlier!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

Synopsis: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

Review: To me, this was every bit as good and enjoyable as the first book in the Hunger Games series. I am so attached to these characters! I felt their despair when they were told they would be participating in the Hunger Games yet again in the Quarter Quell. I felt angry for them at the injustice of it all. I felt torn that both Katniss and Peeta would be both participating again and worried about what this would mean.

I am really loving the Katniss pretending to love Peeta, but Peeta really loves her storyline. It was cruel but captivating and kept me turning the pages. The Katniss - Peeta - Gale love triangle has had me fascinated since the first book and Catching Fire continues this part of the story in a big way!

President Snow starts showing his true colours, and he is a true villain. You start to understand how evil he really is in this book!

So much to love about this book - a must read!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Bad Girls Don’t Die - Katie Alender

Synopsis: Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents’ marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude. When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in. Alexis wants to think that it’s all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening-to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president. Alexis knows she’s the only person who can stop Kasey — but what if that green-eyed girl isn’t even Kasey anymore?

Review: I didn’t know too much about Bad Girls Don’t Die going into the book, and I liked it that way, because the story unveiled itself to me as I read it, and I read it all in one sitting! It was a bit shorter than some of the other books I have read recently, but the story it packed was powerful, thrilling and solid.

As the synopsis indicates this book is about ghosts and possession. And at times it was very creepy! Kasey did and said things that just well.. frightened me at times. I won’t go into what she does since it’s a spoiler if I do.

I don’t know if I love Alexis’ character. I liked her, but I didn’t feel a very strong bond with her. If anything, I would say I felt more strongly about Megan and Carter. Alexis’ was so guarded and tough, and wouldn’t let anyone in. She would constantly have sarcastic remarks and cut people with her words whenever they tried to get close to her. And maybe that’s why I didn’t feel close to her as a reader… maybe I wasn’t meant to feel close to her?

Megan I felt bad for. This girl has had such a tragic life, and yet she remains strong and willing to fight to make things right again. I wanted for Alexis to stop shutting her down and just become her friend. Carter I think is someone I wish liked me when I was in high school. lol He was persistent, but in all the right ways, and not in the annoying stalker type ways. He too has a sad story and I felt bad for him at points in this story. I just wanted for things to work out well for him and Alexis - even if she wanted to fight her feelings for him for the most part.

The story line itself was clever. Little bits and pieces are given to you, and towards the end of the book, it all comes together and it all fits, and you have that “ah huh” moment when it all comes together. I loved the back story behind the haunting too.

The writing style itself was very fluid, and as I said, I read this all in one sitting… it was just such a page turner, and honestly, I just wanted to find out what happened in the end, so Katie Alender definitely did something right when writing this book!

Rating: 4 out of 5