This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

Published: 14th January 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Orchard Books
Pages: 312
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

How is it that one day Digby was my best friend’s cute twin brother, and then the next he stole air, gave jitters, twisted my insides up?

And with Mom gone, bills to pay and Wren to look after… Why does the best thing happen at the worst time?

This book was such an emotional roller coaster for me. I made so many different noises reading this story. I could barely contain myself as I read. I had to put it down to gather myself but then I immediately had to pick it back up again because I Had To Know. Looking at the notes I took when I read it there is one that is simply “This book. Oh gosh this book is incredible!!!” which is a great endorsement based on emotional response alone.

There are so many brilliant characters in this, so many to admire and have emotional moments about. Laure has done a brilliant job making the reader become invested in these girls and their lives and obviously there are so many heart wrenching and suspenseful moments as they try and cope on their own.

There is uncertainty and fear and all kinds of worries we’re made too experience alongside Lucille. You see her fears of being separated and her worry how to cope, not to mention the mystery of where her mother is and when she’s coming back. We feel her anger and her desperation and determination is compelling.

Wren is character you can’t help but adore and seeing her and Lucille together is magical; the sisterly bond the two girls have is amazing. Wren’s journey and her thoughts alone will break your heart, not to mention that her own fears and her worries WILL CRUSH YOUR SOUL. It really reminds you that she is only a kid and that she is as scared and as worried as Lucille is. As a reader you get to hate a few people in this – the mum, the dad, but for a lot of the time as well you get to be proud of the girls for surviving.

It isn’t just the big things, there’s a lot of little things that will break your heart and make you swell with pride. It’s an incredible story and one that leaves you with so much more than when you started. I basically shoved this book into the hands of anyone nearby and it was wonderful to watch them have the same emotional reactions as I did.

Before I claim this as completely perfect, there were a few things that didn’t sit right with me but I think it adds to the story in a way – a lot can be excused regarding young love and new feelings. Some parts I will also admit made me angry, like proper frustrated because it was so stupid and wrong, but this is what I mean when I say Laure makes you feel a range of emotions with this story. Anger, fear, pain, love. It’s all in there and you will feel all of it.

The additional dramas around their missing mother is also nail biting and filled with tension. It never feels like two separate stories, they blend together brilliantly and they link together seamlessly. A great example of capturing life: everything happens at once and things are not easy, perfect or solved by the end of the book.

There is a sense of hope that shines through though, that even in the toughest moments when there are bills to pay and food to buy you have faith that Lucille and Wren will be ok. Lucille is someone you know will make it all ok, even when she can’t they will get through it, she will always be there for Wren, no matter what happens.

Honestly I don’t know how many more ways I can say that I adored this story. It has so much in it and so many complexities that Laure has blended brilliantly. It’s a love story, a family story, a story of pain and hope and survival, and one that will make you feel everything.

You can purchase This Raging Light via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

DymocksAngus and Robinson

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Faking It (#2) by Gabrielle Tozer

Published: 23rd January 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
HarperCollins
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★  – 2 Stars

Things are looking up for Josie Browning. Her boyfriend, James, is crazy about her, and she’s scored a writing job at indi. Now the pressure is on for Josie to prove she’s got what it takes to help plan indi’s launch. Plus, she’s battling with flatmates, frenemies and confusing feelings for travel writer Alex.

High on the perks at indi, Josie’s doing a pretty good job of faking her way in the industry – even though she still hasn’t mastered her hair straightener. But when Josie is invited to a media junket, she accidentally sets off a string of lies that threaten to ruin her reputation, love life and career forever.

Second book, second chance to warm up to main character Josie but once again it did not happen. I liked her even less this time around. I didn’t like her character and I can’t understand how she changed from one book to the other. There doesn’t seem to be a huge shift but the small moments of poor behaviour in the first book seem to be her dominate trait this time around. After fighting for James her eyes start to wander, after landing her dream job she sabotages her chances, what annoyed me most is she becomes the kind of person who would out a piece of clothing just because some guy made a joke about them.

I understand that she is thrust into a new role and she tries to be something and someone she isn’t, which is an uncomfortable experience but she is meant to be smarter and have more common sense than this, it’s built up in her backstory and by her previous experiences unless she has learnt nothing from the events before. Like last time I had to remind myself of her age constantly, she is only 18, but the drama and troubles around her were so petty telling myself it was a flights and fancy of a naïve, immature 18 year old was a stretch given everything she has experienced.

I tried so hard to love this book. I connected more with the first book than I did this and the fact I can’t even bring myself to give it three stars says a lot. I wanted to put this down so many times and I did but I always picked it up again. I couldn’t take Josie and everything in this book and so I’d take a break and try and come back but another paragraph and I’d have to stop. I was frustrated and annoyed and I wasn’t invested enough to care about anything happening. The fact I finished it even with the strong desire to quit at every turn was only to see the story through despite having no real interest in the outcome.

You can purchase Faking It via the following

Dymocks | Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Intern (#1) by Gabrielle Tozer

Published: 1st February 2014Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harper Collins AU
Pages: 327
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Josie Browning dreams of having it all.

A stellar academic record, an amazing career in journalism – and for her current crush to realise she actually exists. The only problem? Josie can’t get through twenty-four hours without embarrassing her sister Kat or her best friend Angel, let alone herself.

Josie’s luck changes though when she lands an internship at the glossy fashion magazine Sash. A coveted columnist job is up for grabs, but Josie’s got some tough competition in the form of two other interns. Battle lines are drawn and Josie quickly learns that the magazine industry is far from easy, especially under the reign of powerful editor, Rae Swanson.

From the lows of coffee-fetching and working 10-hour days, to the highs of mingling with celebrities, scoring endless free beauty products (plus falling for her cousin’s seriously gorgeous flatmate James) this is one year Josie will never forget.

Totally fresh and funny, this debut novel from industry insider Gabrielle Tozer reveals just what is behind the seeming glamour and sparkle of the magazine industry.

This is a light, fun story that is good but doesn’t really have a lot of substance. It was new for me to have a YA where the character was solely at a job and not in high school, Josie is at university for some parts but even that is something different.

I have mixed feelings about this story, I enjoyed it but things were annoying as well. Perfect coincidences, unrealistic situations, and I couldn’t connect with the main character. I never felt that fond of Josie, she was nice, but I never clicked with her. I really had to remind myself that she was only 17 because it made me not excuse, but understand her behaviour a little better. Her impulsiveness, her complaints, even her behaviour didn’t fit in with the good student she was meant to be and it was jarring to see contrasts in her portrayal.

I can see how Josie is meant to be a reflection on real life; good grades, great opportunity but the strange and daft moments of being human and human behaviour can still get in the way. Josie’s flaws are there to have her be flawed but they were annoying after a while.

All the characters have stories and complexities, whether they all get explored in detail is another thing. There were stereotypical characters and different personality types but even if there was a reason for their actions the characters weren’t given enough depth for me to understand who these people were and why they do what they do.

Tozer captures the chaos of working for a magazine and the behind the scenes of what goes on for photoshoots and getting articles out. Josie is thrown into this world with her internship and after a rocky start starts having opportunities conveniently thrown at her which is a win for her but is slightly unbelievable for the reader.

I wanted to enjoy this more, and I think I did reading it, but reviewing it has made me think more about the problems I saw. While there are entertaining moments and funny parts, you have to suspend some parts of believability to really enjoy the story. Overall it was a nice story that has a bit of drama, romance, and humour but nothing too serious either.

You can purchase The Intern via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Wordery 

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (#2) by Mackenzi Lee

Published: 2nd October 2018 (print)/2nd October 2018 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins Publishers
Pages: 450/11 hrs and 16 mins
Narrator: Moira Quirk
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★  ★ – 4 Stars

A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.

But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolises is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid.

In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

Naturally after finished Gentleman’s Guide I had to pick up book two to see what our favourite sister Felicity was getting up to. Admittedly with a slow start it took me a while to get into the story but once I did it was engaging and full of wonderful surprises. It had so much to live up to compared to Gentleman’s Guide and while it isn’t quite the same story, it is its own story and Felicity needed her own story too. There was a lot more humour in Gentleman’s but I think that comes from Monty, he steals the show in every scene in this book too which is completely on form.

The story takes place a year after the events of the previous book and seeing how they have all fared after those events is delightful. Felicity is the main character this time around with new characters and a new adventure ahead we understand a lot more of her character than what we got to see before.

One thing I missed was that I didn’t see the sarcastic Felicity that I loved from the first book in this. Having said that her interactions with Monty and Percy were as fantastic as before; the three of them together radiate family and sibling relationships. On her own though, Lee shows off a lot more of her insecurities and her determination, which isn’t to say it wasn’t there before, but now we have her own perspective to give us more insight than a few off the hand remarks about the annoyances of her brother and his melodramatics.

Felicity recaps much of the previous book but not in an unnatural way, more like reminders to herself of all she has achieved and what she is capable of. These moments of unfairness where she talks about injustices can come across as repetitive but I chose to look at it as ongoing pep talks Felicity gives herself when faced with challenges or defeat.

Quirk does a wonderful job as narrator for the audio and the inflections and voices for each character suited them so I was never once removed from the story. With each voice it brought out the characters and it was amazing to see how the assigned voice to the characters reflected their personalities.

There’s a lot of adventure and drama as well as great character exploration and growth. While it may not have been as hilarious, there is still humour and a fierceness I enjoyed a lot. Lee doesn’t try and replicate the events or style of the first book, but it still fits in perfectly as a sequel and gives an adventure just as daring and dangerous.

One of the best parts of this is the female camaraderie and the friendships. There’s unity and ferociousness and seeing these women plan to take on the world and the patriarchy and the inequalities of their time is fantastic. It was excellent to see these women band together and fight for the lives that they want and deserve and Lee never makes it preachy, though so much of it can easily be applied today.

There’re some harrowing moments and the realities of exploring Englishman and Europeans on the world ring true but there is a wonderful representation of other cultures and great diversity in characters as well. This is definitely a fabulous adventure to go on and a story that was full of surprises.

You can purchase The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Wordery

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (#1) by Mackenzi Lee

Published: 27th June 2017 (print)/27th June 2017 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins Publishers
Pages: 513/10 hrs and 47 mins
Narrator: Christian Coulson
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★  ★  ★ – 5 Stars

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and travelling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

There is so much I love about this book. Lee develops her characters brilliantly and seeing how rich and complicated they are and then also see them grow but remain their same essential selves is all you could ever want from a novel. The story is captivating with adventure and intrigue, but there are also moments of compassion and intimacy which bring out each character’s uniqueness and these are the moments we get to know them best.

Monty and Percy’s relationship is fabulous and is heart-warming and heartbreaking all at the same time, and Felicity and Monty’s sibling dynamics are hilarious and believable. Monty is the main character but his interactions and travels with the other two help us understand their world and the wider society and expectations. Lee brings in the scandals and the dangers of the era and through these three characters you also see the day to day life so you are completely immersed in this time and how 18th century society operated. Lee doesn’t dwell on too much explanation though as it all blends together wonderfully as she uses the characters and their circumstances to add in detail and background.

Monty is such a fantastically complicated person. I went from loving his roguish attitude at the start, then properly hating him as a scoundrel but when you start to realise who he truly is I fell in love with him.  It was such a wild ride to go on with him. I respected Lee’s character choice to have this villainous person as a main charcater so I told myself it was author’s choice to do so, don’t hate the book because the character is truly horrible, but when you realise, and it isn’t long until you realise, oh the heartache and the realisation hits you in the face and it is painful and perfect and incredible. I felt sad for him at times and it breaks your heart because you want him to be happy and safe which isn’t always entirely possible. He is the kind of character you hate at the start and would completely die for by the end.

The audio is amazing because Coulson puts in the perfect tone and accent for Monty which is a pure joy to listen to. His snark and attitude, Felicity’s exasperations, and Percy’s sweetness come across so well they really feel like actual people and each character stands out on their own and with their own voice. The inflections and the humour bring all the joy of this story to life and I loved the narration immediately.

Characters aside, the plot is wonderful, it is creative, not overly complicated but has enough daring and adventure to make it captivating. Lee manages to capture how people have always very much been people and mixing it together with the chaos of a manhunt and drama of every kind creates a brilliant story that I loved from start to finish.

You can purchase The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

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