North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

North of Beautiful

North of Beautiful by Justina

North of Beautiful was an emotional roller coaster for me. The main character, Terra, has a Port Wine Stain birthmark on her face identical to the one my daughter has on hers. While I have come to terms with this and my beautiful daughter is so confident and bubbly that it is hardly ever noticed, I did go through heartache in her early years and this came back to me in a flood as I read this story.

Having said this, and taking all the emotion into consideration, I can still say this book is fantastic. Beautifully written, Terra’s journey negotiating difficult awful family circumstances while discovering acceptance, friendship, love, joy, adventure and ultimately herself was both engaging and inspirational.

Best of all, this book introduced me to my new hobby, geocaching, which, unlike reading, I can actually share with my family.5 Star

Recommended age: 13 +

North of Beautiful
Author: Justina Chen Headley
Publication Date: 6 January 2009North of Beautiful
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: Purchased

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It’s hard not to notice Terra Cooper.

She’s tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably “flawed” face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob’s path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?  – Extract from Goodreads.com

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity cropCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

 

Wow! An amazing book! I wish I could start at the beginning again…

Courage, despair, deviousness, courage, manipulation, treachery, betrayal, courage and did I say courage… unbelievable courage.

In the first half of the book we get to know the background story of the two main characters and their various paths that led to the fateful journey into Occupied France. At this stage of the story I was enjoying it, but not really feeling the ‘wow’ factor. It was during the second half of the book when an unexpected twist turns the story on its head and WOW, did the wow factor hit me hard! I LOVE this book.

I was struck by the extensive research Elizabeth Wein has done not only on the war, but on the lifestyle of the time, giving the story a sense of realism that allowed me to feel as though I was there, witnessing the events as they unfolded.

Code Name Verity has a unique plot that blew me away.

To those who start and feel let down – read on… it’s definitely worth it.5 Star

Recommended age: 14 +

Title: Code Name Verity 
Author:
Elizabeth Wein
Publication Date: 6 February 2012Code Name Verity
Publisher: Egmont Press
Source: Purchased

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I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort.  And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two. We are a sensational team.  — Extract from Goodreads.com

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen: Children’s Book Review

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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This brilliant book was captivating from the very first page. Despite being a little predictable the story flowed beautifully and I found I could not put it down.

This is a popular book in our school library!

4 Star

Recommended age 10 +

The False Prince
Series: The Ascendance Trilogy – Book 1
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Publication Date: 1 April 2012False Prince
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Purchased

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In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a run-down orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together. –Extract from Goodreads.com

Kissed by Kimberly Loth: YA Book Review & Giveaway

Kissed Crop

Kissed by Kimberly Loth: YA Book Review & Giveaway

The first half of this story, the dark half, describing Naomi’s bleak home life was disturbing and difficult to read due to the graphic portrayal and level of violent abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. It was however beautifully written and I felt drawn into the character’s emotional journey.

In contrast the second half of the book, where the fantasy element is further revealed, felt a little bland and rushed, with Puck the only character with any real spark. I wish he played a larger role in the story – I am definitely on ‘Team Puck’!

I loved the unique way the author used roses as a link through the story. Roses play a large role in the story, including Naomi’s penchant of matching each person she meets, based on their character and her emotional connection to them, to a particular rose.3 Star

Recommended age: 15+ (Domestic violence)

Kissed
Series: The Thorn Chronicles – # 1
Author: Kimberly Loth
Publisher: Kimberly LothKissed
Publication Date: 1 May 2014
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review

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Trapped in a dark cult, sixteen-year-old Naomi Aren has lived a quiet, albeit unhappy, life nestled deep in the hills of the Ozarks. With uncut hair, denim skirts, and only roses for friends, Naomi seldom questions why her life is different from other kids at school. Until the day her abusive father, who is also the cult’s leader, announces her wedding. Naomi must marry Dwayne Yerdin, a bully who reeks of sweat and manure and is the only one person who scares her worse than her father.

Then she meets Kai, the mysterious boy who brings her exotic new roses and stolen midnight kisses. Kisses that bring her a supernatural strength she never knew she had. As the big day approaches, Naomi unearths more secrets of about her father’s cult. She learns she has power of her own and while Kai may have awakened that power, Naomi must find a way to use it to escape Dwayne and her father—without destroying herself   — Extract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

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Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Defiance crop

Defiance by C.J. Redwine

I LOVED this book! Fast paced, brimming with action, a strong, feisty female protagonist and a dragon that puts all the dragons that came before to shame. What’s not to love?

I could not put this book down. Inventing excuses to make time to read, I devoured this book from the opening sentence “The weight of their pity is like a stone tied around my neck…” to the breathtaking end and was left wanting more. There is a sure way of telling if you truly love an author’s style of writing – when you continue to read their four page acknowledgements at the end of the book, where they thank people who you don’t know or care about, just because you can’t believe the story is really over.

Go and get this book today! My copy is going on my favourites shelf.5 Star

Recommended age: 13 +

Defiance
Title: Defiance
Series: Courier’s Daughter – Book 1Defiance
Author: C.J. Redwine
Publication Date: 28 August 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Purchased

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While the other girls in the walled city-state of Baalboden learn to sew and dance, Rachel Adams learns to track and hunt. While they bend like reeds to the will of their male Protectors, she uses hers for sparring practice.

When Rachel’s father fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the city’s brutal Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector: her father’s apprentice, Logan—the boy she declared her love to and who turned her down two years before. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making. — Extract from Goodreads.com

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