Unrivaled by Alyson Noel

unrivaled

Goodreads Synopsis

Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.

But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.

She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.

That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.

Unrivaled is #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noël’s first book in a thrilling suspense trilogy about how our most desperate dreams can become our darkest nightmares.

Details

Title: Unrivaled (Beautiful Idols #1)

Author: Alyson Noel

ISBN: 0062324527 (ISBN13: 9780062324528)

Published: May 10th 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 420

Genre: Mystery, Romance,  Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts

Fun beach read!

Unrivaled is the first novel in the Beautiful Idols trilogy by Alyson Noel. The novel focuses on three people vying to win Ira Redman’s Unrivaled Nightlife promo competition. Ira owns several Hollywood nightclubs and the competitors score points based on how many celebrities they can bring into Ira’s clubs and how famous those celebrities are.

Layla dreams of becoming a journalist but currently runs a celebrity blog called Beautiful Idols.

Aster feels stifled by her wealthy but conservative Persian parents and aspires to become an actress.

Tommy has just moved to Hollywood from Oklahoma and dreams of becoming a famous guitarist and showing up his father who doesn’t even know he exists.

Madison Brooks is a star actress and worth the highest amount of points in Ira’s competition. As the novel progresses it becomes clear that there are dark secrets in Madison’s past. Madison’s story is where the mystery comes into play.

Unrivaled is a really fun read, perfect to take with you to the beach. 

There is quite a lot of character development and back story throughout the beginning and middle of the novel and a bit of a slow buildup before all the action starts to take place. This is something I enjoy but I think some mystery fans might find it a little bit too slow for them.

I also loved that the chapters are all named after songs. I found that fit in really well with the Hollywood setting of this novel.

There is quite a lot of character development and back story throughout the beginning and middle of the novel and a bit of a slow buildup before all the action starts to take place. This is something I enjoy but I think some mystery fans might find it a little bit too slow for them. The action starts to heat up towards the end of the novel, just in time to leave you dying to know what happens after the crazy cliffhanger. I’ll definitely need to check out the next book in the series to find out!

 

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March TBR

I’m just going to post a short TBR list for March. I’ve just begun a new semester of uni which has a fairly heavy work load, so I want to take it a bit easy on myself. I will hopefully be able to sneak a few surprise reviews in, though!

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Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence chatterley.jpg

From the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER was banned on its publication in 1928, creating a storm of controversy. Lawrence tells the story of Constance Chatterley’s marriage to Sir Clifford, an aristocratic and an intellectual who is paralyzed from the waist down after the First World War. Desperate for an heir and embarrassed by his inability to satisfy his wife, Clifford suggests that she have an affair. Constance, troubled by her husband’s words, finds herself involved in a passionate relationship with their gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. Lawrence’s vitriolic denunciations of industrialism and class division come together in his vivid depiction of the profound emotional and physical connection between a couple otherwise divided by station and society.

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Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert bovary

From the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

When Emma Rouault marries Charles Bovary she imagines she will pass into the life of luxury and passion that she reads about in sentimental novels and women’s magazines. But Charles is a dull country doctor, and provincial life is very different from the romantic excitement for which she yearns. In her quest to realize her dreams she takes a lover, and begins a devastating spiral into deceit and despair.

Flaubert’s novel scandalized its readers when it was first published in 1857, and it remains unsurpassed in its unveiling of character and society.

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The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough tb

Powered by the dreams and struggles of three generations, THE THORN BIRDS is the epic saga of a family rooted in the Australian sheep country. At the story’s heart is the love of Meggie Cleary, who can never possess the man she desperately adores, and Ralph de Bricassart, who rises from parish priest to the inner circles of the Vatican…but whose passion for Meggie will follow him all the days of his life.

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F*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher fucklove.jpg

Helena Conway has fallen in love.
Unwillingly. Unwittingly.
But not unprovoked.
Kit Isley is everything she’s not—unstructured, untethered,
and not even a little bit careful.
It could all be so beautiful … if he wasn’t dating her best friend.
Helena must defy her heart, do the right thing, and think of others.
Until she doesn’t.

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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Lucia Graves (Translator)

Atmospheric mystery. Epic love stories. The Shadow of the Wind has it all! shadow2

In Barcelona, just after the Spanish Civil War, 10 year old Daniel Sempre is grieving for his mother. To cheer him up, his father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books where he must choose one book to take home and care for. The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax seems to choose Daniel. It was such a brilliant novel that he assumes Carax must be a well-known author, so he visits book dealer, Gustavo Barcello, to try and hunt down more of Carax’s books. When Barcello informs him that he might actually own the very last copy of any of Carax’s novels Daniel begins his quest to discover the mystery of Julián Carax.

I absolutely loved this book! I purchased my copy at a second-hand book store and the second I uploaded a picture of my book haul on Instagram I was inundated with comments from people telling what a fantastic novel it is. I kind of feel like I had a tiny Cemetery of Forgotten Books moment!

The Shadow of the Wind has a very Gothic feel to it. The mystery is convoluted and full of twists around every corner. I also really enjoyed the way the novel easily moved between the present and the past. Each revelation seemed to come at exactly the moment I was pulling my hair out wanting to know what was going on.

This novel has something for just about every book worm out there! Mystery, romance, books, writing, and it was an interesting depiction of Franco’s Spain.

Description

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

Details

Title: The Shadow of the Wind

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Lucia Graves (Translator)

Published: October 5th 2005 by Phoenix Press (first published 2001)

ISBN: 0753820250 (ISBN13: 9780753820254)

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Gothic, Spain

Pages: 520

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

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January Wrap Up

Is it just me getting old or did January fly by in an instant? I swear it was New Year’s Eve just the other day!

Now, in my 2015 Review post I decided I wasn’t going to make any New Year’s resolutions, but I did want to spend more time blogging. I think I’ve kept that up very well! I posted 8 blog posts, read 7 books, and started a reading challenge. 2 of my January reviews did sneak into February, but all 7 reviews are posted as of the 3rd of February, so that’s not too bad at all!

I was hit pretty hard by the death of David Bowie. I’m really not someone who feels deeply about celebrities, but I think most people will agree that there is just something about David Bowie. I’ve really loved reading posts by other bloggers, such as Alison Williams, about how David Bowie made them feel better about themselves for being a little bit different as teenagers.

David Bowie was an avid reader, as well as a musical genius. I’ve set myself a massive reading challenge based on Bowie’s top 100 books. You can check out the full list and read along with me here.

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David Bowie also managed to bring the most gorgeous little cat into my life in January. I saw my little Ziggy Stardust up for adoption at my favourite cat rescue organisation, The Cat Protection Society of Victoria, and the rest is history!

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Books I read in January

Blonde Eskimo by Kristen Hunt

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Img Source: Goodreads

Description

Part Viking, part Eskimo, Neiva Ellis knew her family’s ancestral home, the island of Spirit, Alaska, held a secret. A mystery so sensitive everyone, including her beloved grandmother, was keeping it from her. When Neiva is sent to stay on the island while her parents tour Europe she sets out on a mission to uncover the truth, but she was not prepared for what laid ahead.

On the night of her seventeenth birthday, the Eskimo rite of passage, Neiva is mysteriously catapulted into another world full of mystical creatures, ancient traditions, and a masked stranger who awakens feelings deep within her heart. Along with her best friends Nate, Viv and Breezy, she uncovers the truth behind the town of Spirit and about her own heritage.

When an evil force threatens those closest to her, Neiva will stop at nothing to defend her family and friends. Eskimo traditions and legends become real as two worlds merge together to fight a force so ancient and evil it could destroy not only Spirit but the rest of humanity.

 

1984 by George Orwell  1984

Book 1/100 in the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

Description

The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia” -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay

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Img Source: Goodreads

Description

Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy’s secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

In a sudden turn of events, James’s wealthy grandmother Helen hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy’s predicament better than anyone else.

As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen’s wisdom, as Helen confronts the ghosts of her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters’ beloved heroines, who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of change.

Now Lucy must go back into her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that’s been waiting for her all along.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald  gatsby1

Book 2/100 in the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

Description

THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.

Fetish by Tara Moss

fetish
Img Source: Goodreads

Description

Mak is young, beautiful- and in grave danger. An international fashion model, she arrived in Australia on assignment, only to find her best friend brutally murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer with a very deadly fetish. Before she knows it, Mak herself is caught up in the hunt for the killer .and trapped in a twisted game of cat-and-mouse. Who can you trust and where can you turn when you are the dark obsession of a sadistic psychopath?

Tara Moss began modeling at fifteen and worked as a top model around the world for the years before becoming a full-time crime novelist.

 

The Pursuit of Happiness by Douglas Kennedy pursuit

The critically acclaimed bestseller from the number one bestselling author of The Moment and A Special Relationship. A powerful romantic novel set in the tumultuous world of post-war America.

New York, 1945 – Sara Smythe, a young, beautiful and intelligent woman, ready to make her own way in the big city, attends her brother’s Thanksgiving Eve party. As the party gets into full swing, in walks Jack Malone, a US Army journalist back from a defeated Germany and a man unlike any Sara has ever met before – one who is destined to change Sara’s future forever.

But finding love isn’t the same as finding happiness – as Sara and Jack soon find out. In post-war America chance meetings aren’t always as they seem, and people’s choices can often have profound repercussions. Sara and Jack find they are subject to forces beyond their control and that their destinies are formed by more than just circumstance. In this world of intrigue and emotional conflict, Sara must fight to survive – against Jack, as much as for him.

In this mesmerising tale of longing and betrayal, The Pursuit of Happiness is a great tragic love story; a tale of divided loyalties, decisive moral choices, and the random workings of destiny.

 

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert eatpraylove

Description

In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want–husband, country home, successful career–but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

 

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s taken me ages to be able to sit down and write a review for this book. I just couldn’t eatpraylovedecide whether I loved it or hated it! I’ve decided to meet myself halfway and am rating Eat Pray Love 3 stars, because there were parts I enjoyed and parts that I really hated.

Elizabeth Gilbert is in her 30s and having a bit of a breakdown. She appears to be living the dream New York lifestyle with a successful career, nice house and marriage, but she finds herself depressed and searching for God on the bathroom floor. This seems to be the catalysis for her quest, but it’s difficult to relate to her here, because she refuses to discuss the issues with her marriage at all.

So, she decides to take off for 12 months to find either God or herself. I’m still not really sure which one! Her itinerary includes Italy (to eat), India (to pray), and Indonesia (to love).

In Italy she learns Italian and eats a lot. This was my favourite section!

In India she prays at her guru’s ashram. This was the most boring section for me. The concept of a ‘guru’ who she never even meets is a bit far-fetched! Plus there was far too much navel-gazing and discussion of all the totally crazy thoughts that went through her mind here. I’ve got too much going on in my own mind to worry about anybody else’s! Although I did practice a little bit more yoga and meditation while I was reading this section, so that’s a bonus.

In Indonesia she apparently learns about love from a medicine man, raises money for an Indonesian woman to buy a house, and falls in love. I enjoyed Indonesia until Gilbert met her now husband. I feel like it took away from the empowering message the novel was attempting to convey by ending it with the author seemingly happy now because she’s found a man.

What I enjoyed most about Eat Pray Love was the writing style. Gilbert is a good writer and quite funny and endearing in parts. Although some parts really did tend towards narcissism, I don’t think that was the intent. I felt as though the novel was written with good intentions.

The biggest issue for me is that Gilbert’s lifestyle is so unattainable for the majority of the millions of people who have read Eat Pray Love. I’m sure everybody suffering from depression would love to take a 12 month paid vacation to travel around the world and then make millions of dollars by writing about their trip, but that’s just not going to happen for everyone. I would also like to point out that you really don’t need to go to so much effort to do similar things for yourself. You can treat yourself right where you are. Take a class at your local community centre, read a good book, listen to your favourite music, eat good food etc. You learn more about religion, yoga, meditation etc in your own city. And love the people you’re with right now. You also do not need a partner to be able to love yourself!!

Description

In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want–husband, country home, successful career–but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

Details

Title: Eat Pray Love

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Published: Riverhead Books, 2006

ISBN: 0143038419 (ISBN13: 9780143038412)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Travel, Spirituality

Pages: 334

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 3/5 stars

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The Pursuit of Happiness by Douglas Kennedy

A tragic love story spanning a lifetime pursuit

The year is 1945 and Sara Smythe reluctantly attends her brother, Eric’s, Thanksgiving Eve party. She is swept away by the enigmatic gate-crasher, Jack Malone. Jack says he is a U.S army journalist and is being deployed to Germany the very next day, despite the war being over. Will Jack make good on his declarations of undying love and devotion or will he breaks Sara’s heart, just as Eric suspects.

The Pursuit of Happiness is set in a time of great unrest in the USA. After the initial optimism of the war ending the country moves quickly to a state of great unease and fear of Communism. The McCarthy witch-hunts of this era a nasty little piece of American history!

The writing of this novel was beautifully done, perhaps a bit too well for me in parts. I found myself becoming a little bit depressed by this novel. There was just one depressing event after another for Sara and her loved ones. Kennedy did such a brilliant job with all of the characters that I just really felt their pain with them throughout the novel.

Description

The critically acclaimed bestseller from the number one bestselling author of The Moment and A Special Relationship. A powerful romantic novel set in the tumultuous world of post-war America.

New York, 1945 – Sara Smythe, a young, beautiful and intelligent woman, ready to make her own way in the big city, attends her brother’s Thanksgiving Eve party. As the party gets into full swing, in walks Jack Malone, a US Army journalist back from a defeated Germany and a man unlike any Sara has ever met before – one who is destined to change Sara’s future forever.

But finding love isn’t the same as finding happiness – as Sara and Jack soon find out. In post-war America chance meetings aren’t always as they seem, and people’s choices can often have profound repercussions. Sara and Jack find they are subject to forces beyond their control and that their destinies are formed by more than just circumstance. In this world of intrigue and emotional conflict, Sara must fight to survive – against Jack, as much as for him.

In this mesmerising tale of longing and betrayal, The Pursuit of Happiness is a great tragic love story; a tale of divided loyalties, decisive moral choices, and the random workings of destiny.

Details

Title: The Pursuit of Happiness

Author: Douglas Kennedy

ISBN: 0099415372 (ISBN13: 9780099415374)

Published: Arrow 2001

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction

Pages: 646

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Amazon US

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