Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Book Review: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

Title: When You Were Mine
Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: May 2012
Summary: Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy...and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance. Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends…. Goodreads | Amazon 

When You Were Mine was a delightfully surprising read.  I say this because I'm not normally fond of retellings and I wasn't really keen to read this book. But I'm glad I gave it a chance, because it completely won me over. While it is touted as a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, it felt fresh and new, mainly because it is narrated by Rosaline, Romeo's first love, and  it tells her side of the story. 

By having the story centre on Rosaline, a character that we know little about from the Shakespeare play - except that Romeo was initially enamoured with her -  it allows Serle to really stretch and develop this character. Rose was someone I would want to be friends with. She's popular, but nice. Smart, but prone to being judgemental; and while completely in love with Rob (aka Romeo) at the beginning of the novel she isn't obsessed to the point of being delusional. Her friends Charlie and Olivia were just as well drawn out and characterised. I loved how strong, outgoing, and outspoken Charlie was, and even though she and Olivia are total Mean Girls they are good friends to Rose.

Serle put a lot of work in establishing the relationship between Rose and Rob at the beginning of the novel and it made the inevitable heartbreak even more painful to read about, knowing that Rose and Rob had been best friends since childhood. Serle's ability to make me love both the idea of Rose and Rob at the beginning of the novel, and then Rose and Len, an unpopular slacker, later is a testament to her writing skills. 

The connections and parallels with Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet are few and far between. Which, while nice for people who dislike retellings (like myself!), if you went into this hoping for a close retelling of the original Shakespeare play it won't live up to your expectations. Even though we all know how this story must end, When Your Were Mine felt so distant from the original that I wasn't even sure of what the outcome of this novel would be. 

All in all, When You Were Mine is one of the best retellings I have read and completely changed my mind about them in general. I would definitely recommend this bittersweet story of first love to all contemporary young adult lovers.  

Have you read this book? 
If so, what are you thoughts on it? 
Do you love or loathe retellings? 


Friday, 17 August 2012

Follow Friday #8

                      Feature and Follow Friday is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read

Q.What blogger inspires you? It can be any kind, it doesn't have to be a book blog.

There are too many bloggers that I'm inspired by to mention them all! Little blogs, big blogs, blogs that have been around for a couple of months, and blogs that have been around for years. I'm really inspired by blogs that are able to combine personality with book reviews and have a strong voice, as I'm finding that it's hard to achieve. A non-book blog that inspires me is Raspberri Cupcakes. She posts the most creative and beautiful looking sweets. I can't help but be inspired to bake more and try different things. 

Leave your links so I can hop by! 
And if you're a new follower let me know so I can follow back :) 


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Book Review: The Jelly Bean Crisis by Jolene Stockman

Title: The Jelly Bean Crisis
Author: Jolene Stockman
Publisher: CreateSpace
Released: August 2012
Summary: A total meltdown. The whole school watching. Now Poppy’s an ex-straight-A with no Plan B. When Poppy Johnson throws away a full scholarship to Columbia, she can only blame the jelly beans. The yucky green ones? Midnight cram sessions and Saturday’s spent studying. The delicious red? The family legacy: Columbia, and a future in finance. Except now it’s starting to look like Poppy’s jelly bean theory is wrong. School has been her life until, but maybe it’s time to start living now. Poppy has thirty days to try a new life. No school, no studying. Just jumping into every possible world. Thirty days to find her passion, her path, and maybe even love. The Jelly Bean Crisis is officially on Goodreads |Amazon

*I received this book from the author in exchange for a honest review* 

What do you do when you realise everything you have worked so hard for might not be what you really want? Do you do what's expected of you, what is comfortable and makes sense? Or do you try to find the spark, the thing that will truly make you happy even if it means you get a little lost along the way?

This is no easy decision to make, and for Poppy Johnson, a 'smart-nice girl' who is well on her way to being accepted at Columbia University, scholarship in hand, she decides to determine what she really wants in life by taking a gap month away from school to pursue different career options. Poppy is a warm and likable character whose drive to find what makes her happy is truly admirable. I think for most of us we just muddle way through life. But not Poppy, she is persistent and extremely committed to working out what she wants from life. In this respect I would have loved to tell her to not worry so much, and that it's OK not to have everything figured out in high school, but she works it out in the end. 

I loved Poppy's jelly bean theory and it was probably my favourite aspect of this story. It's such a cool way to look at the world; we have to do the boring or tough work now (eat the yucky green jelly beans first), so that we can get to the great things later (red jelly beans). Another thing I really enjoyed about The Jelly Bean Crisis was Poppy's family, who despite being concerned about her taking a gap month and possibly giving up her scholarship, ended up being a great support for her. I mean not many parents would be willing to let their kid take a month off school to explore their options for the future. 

The Jelly Bean Crisis is a cute, fun, read that had me questioning my own choices and wants in life. There was a smidge of romance, however The Jelly Bean Crisis is primarily a  great motivational story that really makes you think about life, success, creating your own happiness and realising that one persons green jelly bean is another persons red.


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #8

Send Me A Sign by Tiffany Schmidt
October 2nd 2012 - Walker Childrens

Mia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she’ll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. One sign she didn’t expect to look for was: “Will I survive cancer?” It’s a question her friends would never understand, prompting Mia to keep her illness a secret. The only one who knows is her lifelong best friend, Gyver, who is poised to be so much more. Mia is determined to survive, but when you have so much going your way, there is so much more to lose. From debut author Tiffany Schmidt comes a heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting story of one girl’s search for signs of life in the face of death -  Goodreads 

I generally steer clear of  books that deal with cancer because I generally can't handle the sads. But a large portion of the reviews for this on Goodreads sound something like "I don't like cancer books BUT..." and then go on to say how great this book is.

What are you waiting on this week? 
Leave your links and I'll be sure to check them out. 


Sunday, 5 August 2012

Book Review: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Title: Scarlet
Author: A. C. Gaughen
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Released: February 2012
Summary: Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance. Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for. Goodreads | Amazon 

Scarlet is a fresh and thrilling take on the well known tale of Robin Hood and his band of merry man. This is an adventurous read, with a historical setting and charming (and at times infuriating!) characters.   

The novel is narrated from the point of view of Scarlet, a member of Robin's band who disguises herself as a boy and carefully guards her true identity. Scarlet is a fierce heroine who can fight with the best of them and wields a mean set of knives. I love to see strong female characters who can fight their own battles, so on that front this novel won me over, as did Scarlet's unique narrative voice. And although Scarlet is tough-as-nails she is still vulnerable and riddled by her own fears which made her a more compelling and interesting character. 

The arrival of ultimate baddie and 'Thief-Taker' Lord Gisbourne, sets the pace of the action for the story but it is the characters that really drive this novel. The tension and budding romance between Scarlet and Robin was one of my favourite aspects of this book. One of my major grievances with this novel is that it had the dreaded YA Love Triangle and the to-ing and fro-ing between various love interests got a bit tiring towards the end. I wasn't wholly satisfied by the ending, and it seems like it should have a sequel, but there is currently no information that this is in the works. In saying that, I would definitely love to read the sequel of this so *fingers crossed*. 

While not as epic as other historical tales with strong women, a la Tamora Peirce's Song of the Lioness series, Scarlet holds it own as an entertaining and adventurous read. 

If you've read this, what are your thoughts on it? 
If not, what's your favourite historical novel? 
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