Review for Fall For You (The Jane Austen Academy Series #1) by Cecilia Gray

Fall For You by Cecilia Gray

TITLE: Fall For You
SERIES: The Jane Austen Academy Series #1
AUTHOR: Cecilia Gray
PUBLICATION DATE: February 10, 2012
PAGES: 144 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 3 bows

Lizzie is astounded to learn that this year, things at her precious school are changing. Not only are they doubling the population by adding boys to the formerly girls only school, but she has learned they also plan to change the name. The Jane Austen Academy is near and dear to her heart and she’ll fight tooth and nail with every journalistic bone in her body to prevent such a disastrous change. She’d stay focused a little better if snooty Dante would quit distracting her. The fact that he is attractive as sin goes out the window every time he opens his arrogant mouth. Can she ignore him long enough to accomplish her goals or is she doomed to fall under his spell?

Lizzie is a pretty relatable character. She’s struggling to hold onto tradition while the world around her moves on without really caring. Lizzie is determined to make them care. This year was supposed to be an easy year, rooming with Ellie, her BFF, but no such luck. Not only is she not roomie with Ellie, she is stuck with her nemesis, Anne and the headmistress blackmails her into staying there. Things look bleak at best, but she will make it work and she won’t let her friendship with Ellie fade just because they can’t room together or because Ellie’s new roommate becomes fast friends with her.

Anne isn’t as bad as Lizzie made her out to be. She’s not really uppity or snobby at all, just quiet and diligent and completely in love with the Academy. I really like Anne quite a bit more and I’m ready for her story.

Dante is everything he is supposed to be in a Darcy reincarnation. He’s snooty and quiet and kinda mean, but not really, just untrusting and unforgiving. Those are two traits I can relate to all too well, so I’m in no position to judge. I do think he is quite a bit overbearing with Georgiana, especially in this modern setting.

This is a Pride & Prejudice retelling. I love almost any incarnation of that story. I especially love the BBC mini series Lost In Austen, so it’s clear I’m okay with changing the rules up a bit, as long as we remain faithful to the original tale in spirit. In that regard, this succeeds. I love the idea of taking the main characters from Austen’s six novels and placing them in one story. Bravo Gray for a wonderful idea. Really, it’s a promising start. My problem is it wasn’t extremely well fleshed out. This novel is short, like less than 200 pages, and I feel like that isn’t room enough to do a P&P retelling, much less add in characters from the other works and do it properly. Lizzie and Dante’s story felt very rushed and a bit instalove-y, though the word love was never uttered.

But, despite my issues, the writing is good and the plot is interesting and it’s very readable (a term I seem to use a lot lately). It feels like the first or second draft to a story that will be epic if we just add and edit a bit more. Get it to 300 pages and I’ll probably fall in love with all the extras you’ve added. I do plan on reading the sequels because I feel this series has great potential and I want to see if it grows into more than what this one showed me.

****Thank you to Gray Life LLC for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

3 bows
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Review for Fever (The Chemical Garden #2) by Lauren DeStefano

Fever by Lauren DeStefano

TITLE: Sever
SERIES: The Chemical Garden #2
AUTHOR: Lauren DeStefano
PUBLICATION DATE: February 21, 2012
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
PAGES: 341 pages
FORMAT: Hardback
SOURCE: Borrowed
RATING: 4 stars

At the end of Wither, Rhine and Gabriel manage to escape from Linden’s mansion, but unfortunately things don’t instantly improve once their outside those walls. Rhine isn’t much of a planner and her plan was simple, escape this life. She didn’t even consider what she should do once she accomplished that, so her and Gabriel just trapeze around trying to stay alive landing them right in the middle of the Scarlet district where the Madame has whores for everyone mans need, depending on how much he is willing to spend. Rhine fights to stay alive and out of the prostitution ring and when they finally escape, they are determined to make their way to Manhattan and find Rowan…but I think we all know it won’t be easy.

It was definitely a thrillride, I’ll give you that. I can honestly say that I had no idea where this one was going to lead so congrats on keeping me in the dark. The characters are the same as last time, with a few new additions, most noteably Silas and Maddie, both of whom were pretty interesting. I really can’t say much more than it was amazing because I would give away too many spoilers. So much happens here. If you enjoyed Wither, definitely give this one a try!

Review for Point of Retreat (Slammed #2) by Colleen Hoover

Point Of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

TITLE: Point Of Retreat
SERIES: Slammed #2
AUTHOR: Colleen Hoover
PUBLICATION DATE: February 25, 2012
PUBLISHER: Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc
PAGES: 215 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 4 stars

Point Of Retreat picks up right after the epilogue of Slammed leaves off. Will and Lake have been dealing with Lake’s mom’s death and raising their brothers relatively well. But life isn’t quite finished running the two of them through the ringer and it has a few more problems to throw their way before they can have their happily ever after.

With this new installment, we finally get to see things through Will’s perspective. I love that instead of following that trend right now of just rewriting the same series of events from the first novel via Will’s POV, Colleen Hoover just continues the story, throwing us a bone here and there with a flashback or two. Will’s thoughts were a joy to read and I found myself falling for him even more….until he does something incredibly stupid and then expects Lake to just get over it after a weekend of deep thinking. She doesn’t. A good bit of this book with Will trying to make up for his mistakes and I found myself falling for him again and wondering how Lake could keep her guard up so well. Don’t worry, there is no love triangle, and Will doesn’t cheat on her. In fact, he makes it pretty clear to all involved that he loves Lake and wants to be with her and no one else. He just isn’t completely honest with Lake.

Lake is just as strong and stubborn in this as she was in Slammed. And all the side characters are back, plus Kiersten, a new kid who moves in down the street and strikes up a friendship with Caulder and Kel. This eleven year old quickly won over the entire crew’s heart as well as mine. She is so much like Eddie, it’s unbelievable and I would love to get more time to understand this kid. She’s intelligent and spunky and damn I hope if I ever half kids they are half as cool as this chick.

The writing is just as addictive as last time, driving to me to keep going and see Will & Lake’s story through to the end. I think my only issue was really that it was a bit predictable. Not that I started this book knowing exactly where it was going to go, but more event A would happen and I knew exactly where it would lead. I felt so bad for this small family towards the end because they have already been put through so much and I knew there was more to come. I almost wish the story had ended with Slammed so these poor characters wouldn’t have to deal with this drama…..but I really mean the “almost” because I always enjoy reading more about characters I love.

If you enjoyed Slammed (and really, who didn’t?), definitely pick this one up. If you haven’t read Slammed, but enjoy New Adult/Contemporary Young Adult, then go read Slammed and then this. It’s really a great story and I can’t wait until I can get my hands on the next one.

****Thank you to Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc, for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

Review for Bewitching: The Kendra Chronicles by Alex Flinn

Bewitching by Alex Flinn

TITLE: Bewitching: The Kendra Chronicles
AUTHOR: Alex Flinn
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen, An Imprint Of HarperCollins Publishers
PAGES: 336 pages
FORMAT: Hardback
SOURCE: Library
RATING: 5 stars

Remember Kendra, the witch who cursed Kyle in Beastly? Well, not it’s time we hear more from her. Bewitching gives you a peak at the life she had before all the witchy stuff started and tells you several different stories where she uses magic to help. And there is the big surprise, she actually wants to help people, not punish them, but you know what they say about an angry witch, she’ll get her revenge and Kendra is as guilty of wanting people to get their comeuppance as anyone else. Within this volume, we get 3 of Kendra’s lost causes. The main one is the story of Emma and Lisette, a new twist on Cinderella, then we get Louis and his search for a bride via a The Princess and The Pea retelling, and finally a version of The Little Mermaid that I don’t know how to categorize. All these go on with a little bit of commentary from Kendra from time to time.

What I was expecting from this novel was to follow Kendra’s perspective as she curses and helps people and while we do get a bit from her, all of the beginning and then small pieces after that, the main story is told via Emma. The way this is set up is you get Kendra’s background and then it transitions into Emma & Lisette where we see the twos first meeting and then at random points, the tale stops for Kendra’s commentary and a few tales to showcase her failures so we can see why she isn’t jumping in to help until she is sure of what to do.

With Emma and Lisette, we get a taste of what Cinderella might have been like if the stepsister was actually the one being duped. Emma is a sweet, smart, overly trusting eighth grader when her dad (who is technically her stepdad, but they have the normal father-daughter relationship) tells her that he’s first wife has died and that his biological daughter is coming to live with them. Nervous and excited at the prospect of getting a sister, Emma is tentatively optimists about this and when she meets Lisette, her hopes soar because she is sweet and kind and actually wants to spend time with Emma….or does she? Some things just don’t add up. Like how Emma’s things go missing and Lisette just happens to have identical things or how Emma is suddenly left behind on all the father-daughter trips because she overslept even though she knows she set an alarm. I found this particular tale quite engrossing. I wanted to keep reading and I ended up using time I was supposed to use reading some eARCs from Netgalley to finish this, but it was worth it.

Emma was that heroine that you sympathize with while wishes she’d speak up. The situation with Lisette doesn’t improve, it just gets worse, and I think we can tell definitively that had Emma just said something instead of keeping quiet, things would have turned out completely different. Emma was also someone that I identified with (not because I have evil siblings) but because she was a bit odd and most days wanted nothing more than to curl up on her bed with a good book. Lisette, on the other hand, was the girl I just wanted to punch. She’s that girl that can charm her way out of anything, that conniving girl who has all the males in her life fooled into thinking she’s sweet and kind but really she’s a backstabbing bitch who will fuck over the entire planet to get what she wants.

As for the two other small tales, I found Louis tale endearing and Doria’s (the mermaid) tale boring. Louis gained my sympathy, but Doria just annoyed me. Either way, with both tales, all I could really think was “Can I please get back to Emma?” I did like the bits of commentary we got from Kendra, but with these I just wanted more of what was happening with Emma. I think that might have been the point, to build suspense or whatever, but really it just annoyed me.

It was all worth it in the end though, because Emma does get her happily ever after, maybe just not in the way she was expecting. If you are looking for more of Alex Flinn’s magic, or just a great fairy tale retelling that doesn’t take you exactly where you were expecting to go, this is it. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.