Unrivaled by Alyson Noel

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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!

 

Review: The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub

The Yearbook Committee is being described as this generation’s The Breakfast Club and I theyearbookcommitteecovercan see why! The setting for this novel takes place in a private school. Five Year 12 students are thrown together onto the yearbook committee and we get to read about their progress over the entire school year.

The story is told from the perspective of each of the members of the yearbook committee who are all dealing with their own personal issues while they are completing their final year of high school. Despite the fact that almost none of them are on the committee by choice they gradually form friendships with each other and put together a pretty amazing yearbook.

The Yearbook Committee tackles some serious issues. Bullying is a major theme, and it’s the kind of insidious, relentless gossip that is unfortunately far too common among females. It can be so difficult to pinpoint or deal with and I think Ayoub did a brilliant job of depicting it realistically. This kind of bullying has always been around in high schools (and some workplaces!), but it can be so much worse when it moves online. The problem with the internet is that everything on it is permanent and public. So, unlike the pre-internet days when you could go home from school and it didn’t exist bullying now follows teenagers everywhere they go, even when they graduate! Apologies for the rant here, but it’s a subject dear to my Internet Communications geek heart. Getting back on topic, brilliant job by the author to raise such an important issue in the language that teenagers will pay attention to!

This novel also tackles such issues as family and peer pressure, mental illness, self-esteem issues, gender stereotyping and questions about friendships, decency and life after school. And it is all presented in a non-preachy and brilliant story with interesting and well-developed characters that teenagers and YA fans will fall in love with. Bonus points from me because it was set in Sydney with many references to my hometown, Melbourne. And yes, Charlie should definitely visit Lord of the Fries when she goes to Melbourne for the weekend, but not with Pete because he’s a jerk!

Description

‘smart, funny and relevant’ – Melina Marchetta, bestselling author of LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI, SAVING FRANCESCA and ON THE JELLICOE ROAD

Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.

The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?

The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …

The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.

The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?

The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.

Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?

Details

Title: The Yearbook Committee

Author: Sarah Ayoub

Published:  29 February 2016 HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9780732296858

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Pages: 304

Source: Review copy from HarperCollins Publishers Australia

My Rating: 5/5 stars

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Fetish by Tara Moss

Fast-Paced Australian Thriller

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Img Source: Goodreads

Makedde (Mak) Vanderwall is a Canadian model and psychology student. When she arrives in Sydney, Australia for a modelling shoot she discovers that her best friend, Catherine, has been horrifically murdered. Mak is determined to catch her friend’s killer, but will she find him before he makes her his next victim?

I have been meaning to check this series out for ages and finally picked up a copy at my local second hand bookstore. Fetish is the first novel of Canadian born Australian model, Tara Moss, and first in the Makadde Vanderwall series. I can see there a lot of similarities between Moss and Mak, so the insights into the modelling world really interested me.

Fetish is a fast-paced thriller and liked the main character, Mak. A fantastic first novel, and I would be interested to read the next book in the series.

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.

Details

Title: Fetish

Author: Tara Moss

Published: Leisure Books January 1st 1999

ISBN: 084395633X (ISBN13: 9780843956337)

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Australian

Pages: 325

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay

Perfect for classical book lovers!                                     

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Img Source: Goodreads

 

The Brontë Plot is a contemporary novel set in Chicago that features quotes and inspiration from dozens of favourite classics, particularly works of the Brontës of course. I didn’t find out until I began writing this review that it is also classed as Christian Fiction. It clearly wasn’t too obviously religious, though, so that may be either a good or bad thing for some readers.

The story centres around Lucy who makes a living selling rare books for the slightly kooky and endearing interior designer, Sid. Lucy’s Dad was a bit of a con-man and unfortunately Lucy has picked up some of his bad habits. This causes much trouble for Lucy, particularly when her boyfriend, James, discovers she deceived him as well as Sid.

James’ grandmother, Helen, reveals that she has a history with Lucy’s family and decides to take Lucy on a bookish sight-seeing trip to England despite the fact that James has split up with her. All sorts of things come to a head in a Brontë – ish style in Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters.

I’m not sure how I feel about this novel. I really enjoyed the literary references, but I didn’t really feel a connection to any of the main characters. James and Lucy’s was a bit off for me as well. They went from strangers to being in a committed relationship and then split up really quickly, which just didn’t feel right. I’m not sure how they could have such strong feelings about each other based on what we knew about them.

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.

Details

Title: The Brontë Plot

Author: Katherine Reay

ISBN: 1401689752 (ISBN13: 9781401689759)

Published: November 3rd 2015 by Thomas Nelson

Genre: Contemorary, Christian Fiction

Pages: 334

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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The House of York by Terry Tyler

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The House of York is a riveting family saga loosely based on The Wars of the Roses.

Terry Tyler specialises in epic family sagas that bring English history into the modern world and this time the focus is on the House of York.

The story begins when Lisa Grey – the modern Elizabeth Woodville – meets the rich and handsome owner of York’s Wine bars, Elias York (King Edward.) Lisa thinks that she and her son are set for life when Elias proposes, but his complicated family means that things aren’t always as perfect as they seem.

Even though I know enough about the Wars of the Roses to have a fair idea of what happened there were still plenty of surprises. People who do enjoy their history will enjoy the references to the real life events but The House of York doesn’t require any history knowledge to be enjoyed.

This was a much darker period of time than the Tudor period Tyler covered in Kings and Queens and Last Child and that was reflected brilliantly in the The House of York. There were so many more despicable characters and I loved hearing from all of them. I don’t want to post any spoilers, but I have to say that the ending had me floored!

I enjoyed The House of York so much that I read it in one sitting. As Australian television great, Molly Meldrum, would say: Do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy today!

Description:

The House of York ~ a contemporary family drama, spanning the years 1993 – 2014.

Widowed single mum, Lisa Grey, and wealthy businessman, Elias York, are young and madly in love. A recipe for happiness? But Lisa is marrying into a complicated family. Her new sister-in-law doesn’t want to know her. Middle brother Gabriel’s marriage suffers under a cloud of infidelity and gambling debts, while the youngest, Richard, keeps his dark secrets well hidden—and his wife suffers in silence.

Lisa and her mother are bonded by their powerful intuition, but dare not voice their fears about York Towers—or certain members of the family…

Love and loss, abduction, incestuous desires and murderous intent form the basis of this compelling saga in which horrors float just beneath the surface, to bring forth a shocking outcome.

History lovers may be interested to know that The House of York is loosely based on events during the era of the Wars of the Roses.

Details:

Title: The House of York

Author: Terry Tyler

AISN: B016WNEEQO

Published: October 20th 2015

Genre: Family Saga, Contemporary

Source: I received my copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 5/5 stars

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Book Review: The Rosie Project’ by Graeme Simsion

Title: The Rosie Project                             The Rosie Project

Author: Graeme Simsion

ISBN: 1922079774

Published: May 1st 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2013)

Genre:  Romance, Humour

Source: I borrowed my copy from my local library

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Description:

An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges

My Thoughts:

I might be the very last person in the world to read this novel but I’m so glad that I finally did! The Rosie Project begins when geeky and slightly regimented genetics professor, Don Tillman, decides that now that he’s in his 30s it’s time to turn around his dreadful dating history and find himself a wife. He decides that the best method is is to create a Wife Project in a similar way to how he would conduct any large project. With statistics of course.

But when he begins to fall for Rosie Jarman, who is the exact opposite of what Don thinks he wants in a partner, Don uncharacteristically finds himself throwing caution to the wind, disrupting his routine and actually enjoying himself.

There are a lot of people who have commented both negatively and positively on the Aspergers aspect of this novel, but I’m still not entirely convinced that Don even has Aspergers. It definitely could be hinted at but the author claims that even he isn’t sure himself.

What I like about the ambiguity on this aspect is that perhaps the author is trying to suggest that everybody has their own quirks and behaviours that other people find weird. Maybe we should worry more about accepting our friend’s and loved one’s quirks rather than trying to place labels on each other all of the time because I’m 100% certain that every single person out there does something that other people would find weird. I know that I sure do!

Either way, I really enjoyed The Rosie Project. It was a fun, light-hearted read and I really enjoyed Don’s perspective and outlook on life.

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Book Review: Full Circle by Terry Tyler

Title: Full Circle                                                           fullcircle

Author: Terry Tyler

AISN: B00CBO07WY

Published: April 12th 2013

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Rock Fiction

Pages: 227

Source: I received my copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Description:

FULL CIRCLE is the sequel to Terry Tyler’s fourth novel, DREAM ON, but can be enjoyed as a stand alone work. It’s a tale of love triangles, infidelity, an English rock band, the lure of celebrity, and the destructive nature of alcohol addiction. FULL CIRCLE ~ love, sex and marriage, rock music and secret affairs, with a few laughs along the way!

***

Two years have passed since we left Dave, Ariel, Janice and Shane at the end of DREAM ON.

ARIEL thought her hard work and perseverance had been rewarded when she met record producer Theo Perlmutter ~ then a tragic event turned her dreams to dust.

Newly married JANICE was happier than she’d ever been ~ but the honeymoon ended when born again alcoholic husband Max careered off the wagon and into the nearest bar.

Being forced onto The Jeremy Kyle Show in DREAM ON was not enough to make ladies’ man SHANE learn his lesson – will his philandering ways eventually catch up with him?

Rock band THOR has risen from the ashes…

… but DAVE is unhappy, trapped in a domestic situation not of his choosing.

Will there be a happy ever after ending for any of them?

My Thoughts:

Full Circle is the sequel to Dream On which I read recently. I didn’t even know that there was a sequel so I was very pleasantly surprised when the very lovely author, Terry Tyler, was kind enough to send me a copy!

Full Circle picks up the stories of all of the characters from Dream On a couple of years later. Janice has started a family with Max, but their marriage isn’t all smooth sailing, Dave has started a new family and has reunited Thor, Melodie still wants to be rich and famous, Ariel has recorded an album in America, and Shane is still up to his usual tricks but he now has a daughter who is the love of his life.

What I really enjoyed about this series is how much all of the characters seem like real people who you might have met before. I think we all know a ‘Shane’ who is always getting himself into sticky situations but is such a likable guy that you can’t help but just laugh at him and his crazy antics.

As you can tell, I really enjoyed Full Circle. Terry Tyler is just one of those authors who really seems to understand people, how they think and how they will react in different situations. I do think that there could be room for a third novel in this series (hint hint Terry!).

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