Sunday, 31 March 2013

Film Review: The Island



About the film
The Island is a thriller/ science fiction film that was released in 2005 and was directed by Michael Bay. The film has a run time of 136 minutes and is rated 12A.

Plot
Lincoln Six Echo lives in what seems to be a wonderful Utopian contained facility in the year 2019. Anyone living in this facility are entered into the ‘lottery’ with a chance to go and live on ‘The Island’, a place which is described as paradise as it is the last uncontaminated place on the planet. However, Lincoln Six Echo realises that everything is not as it seems and his whole life is a lie. He’s a clone. Along with another clone, Jordan Two Delta, Lincoln Six Echo escapes the facility, determined to find his human sponsor and live a normal life. However, their makers are also determined to bring them back and put right what has gone incredibly wrong.

What I thought
Somehow, before watching this not too long ago, I had managed to watch the end of this film a few years back. I only realised this though once it got to that part and I thought ‘Oh, I must have seen this already’. I’m glad I didn’t remember this though before sitting down to watch it!

Ewan McGregor stars as Lincoln Six Echo. I’m not really a fan of McGregor but I didn’t mind him too much in The Island. His character, Lincoln lives in a contained facility due to the contamination on the outside world. He goes about his life as normal until he realises that something is wrong. He witnesses something happen which definitely shouldn’t have and realises that his whole life is a lie. Although he doesn’t exactly know why, he knows he has to escape. McGregor is convincing as Lincoln, a slightly confused but brave guy living in a really strange world. I found his character to be quite likable and I did actually care what happened to him.

Lincoln also gets his friend Jordan Two Delta played by Scarlett Johansson to go on the run with him. As characters, they have gotten closer than they were supposed to be allowed to and he doesn’t want to leave her behind, especially as she has just won ‘the lottery’ to go to The Island. Johansson quite obviously the token love interest and beautiful woman to attract more men to watch this film. However, I didn’t hate her in this either and normally I don’t like her at all. Okay, her acting was a little wooden at times but for the most part, I thought she did really well. I liked how her character was always conflicted, wanting to do what she was supposed to while fighting the urge to break free and follow Lincoln.

This is not normally something I would comment on for films like this but the sets were fantastic. A lot of thought had gone in to the sets in the contained facility, with everything being thought of. As the film is set in 2019, some things appear to be a bit more futuristic but not so much that it becomes unbelievable. This goes for the outside world too. As Lincoln and Jordan head out to find their human sponsors, they have to go to L.A. Not having been there myself, I obviously couldn’t tell any difference apart from the fact that some technologies are more advanced. However, I do think that these types of sets made the film more realistic for me. It made me think that in only a few years, this is what life could be like.

I loved the idea of the plot from beginning to end. Although at the beginning of the film, you’re not quite sure about what exactly is going on, it doesn’t take long for things to be explained. I liked the fact that we get to know what is happening quite early on and from there, the whole film becomes a big adventure. However, there weren’t enough twists and turns for me. As things did happen quite early on, I felt like the surprises were all let out too early. The rest of the film was a bit predictable and I wasn’t really shocked by anything that happened. That being said, it was still exciting at the same time. The Island has some fantastic chase scenes and some more general action scenes which were definitely needed to make things more exciting.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Island, despite it starring two actors who I normally can’t stand. The plot is interesting, it’s exciting and more importantly, it’s really entertaining. 

Friday, 29 March 2013

Guest Review: The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón


It isn't very often I have guest reviews on the blog. Actually, I don't at all but today, my wonderful fiancé John is reviewing for me. This was one of his own books but I have sneakily asked him to write a few more reviews for me, seeing as he's reading from my pile at the minute anyway!  

About the book
The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. The paperback was released on 7th March and the book is 320 pages long.

Plot Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Barcelona, 1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife, Bea, have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julián, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city’s dark past.

His appearance plunges Fermín and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940s and the early days of Franco’s dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time launch them on a search for the truth that will put into peril everything they love, and will ultimately transform their lives.

What I thought
I can't tell you how excited I was when I heard about this book. This is the third in the Cemetery of Forgotten books series, set in and around the Sempere and sons bookshop in Barcelona. The two previous instalments were The Shadow of The Wind and its prequel The Angel's Game. This is my favourite series of books and Carlos Ruiz Zafon is my favourite author. I read this book in one day and I loved every page.

The Prisoner of Heaven is both sequel and prequel to The Shadow of the Wind (it will make sense if you read all three) and is also a sequel to The Angel's Game. The 3 books in this series are written as stand-alone, interconnected stories, designed to be read in any order. They share characters, locations and events but I'd recommend reading them in publication order - The Shadow of the Wind first, then The Angel's Game, then this one. It will give you a richer, fuller reading experience and I also think The Shadow of the Wind is the better of the three so a good place to start.

As I said, The Prisoner of Heaven is a sequel to The Shadow of the Wind and events follow on from that book. Daniel Sempere is married and has a son and all looks good for him - until the past catches up with him. I am deliberately not going into plot details because the less the reader knows the better. Trust me.

Compared to the previous two books, The Prisoner of Heaven is actually a pretty short and non-complex story. It fills in some blanks from the previous books and helps those two books slot in together. It adds some scope to it. This book also sets things up nicely for the fourth, concluding part, which Carlos Ruiz Zafon had better hurry up and write!

I can't recommend this series enough. They are magical, gothic, supernatural, mystery, thriller, horror, comedy, historical, haunting stories. The characters are fantastic and I just love them. The Prisoner of Heaven is as fantastic as the others - but make sure you read them first.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza


About the book
Mila 2.0 is the first book in a series by Debra Driza. It was published by Harper Collins Children’s Books on 28th March and the book is 272 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an e-copy for review.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past —that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

What I thought
I can’t say that I have read that many books about robots/ androids etc. but the few I have read were great. I absolutely loved the sound of Mila 2.0 as soon as I read the synopsis.

Mila and her Mum have just moved to a small town in Minnesota. Her Mum is quite overprotective and doesn’t really want Mila doing anything crazy or really, remotely fun. Mila doesn’t really understand this completely but just thinks it has something to do with her father being killed in a fire. However, when Mila does finally get into a little trouble, and something goes terribly wrong, she finds out that she is actually an android. As someone built and made for the government, Mila shouldn’t even be at school let alone living a life as a human. Mila’s mother stole her and ran away with her.

The beginning of Mila 2.0 was great. We get to learn about who Mila thinks she is and who she really is. I liked the small town setting and getting to see how Mila was with other girls at school. We also get introduced to some interesting characters such as Hunter although this is where I also have some problems. It isn’t long before Mila and her mum go on the run, afraid of being caught and at this point, Mila has struck up some form of romance with Hunter who I was beginning to love a bit myself. However, Hunter’s time in the book is cut extremely short and just when things with him were getting interesting.

Many other of the secondary characters (most of them actually) are extremely underdeveloped. Either they aren’t around long enough or they come in to the book nearer the end or we just don’t get to learn anything about them. Even Mila’s mother who is in the forefront of the plot for the most part is never really very interesting when she should have been. After all, she did help to invent Mila then ran across the country with her. But no, she’s just a pretty normal mum character who fails to impress.

The whole government thing was interesting though. As Mila was created, and not a human, she struggles to understand why her memories aren’t real because that’s exactly how they feel to her. Mila feels emotions and has dreams and eats. She really does believe that she is more than an android. I enjoyed the aspects of this book that was set within a government compound, a place where Mila 2.0 is put to the test. While Debra Driza’s characters were somewhat disappointing, she excels are writing exciting scenes full of action and suspense. From this point in the book, the action barely ever stops. There are fights, chases, secrets being revealed and much more.

The end of the book was also exciting and I loved the cliff-hanger. After everything that had happened to Mila up until this point, she has some tough decisions ahead of her but she is brave and really goes for what she wants. There were some great surprises at the end of Mila 2.0 and ones which made me want to read the next book. Actually, the surprises were mostly the only reason why I want to read the next book.

So, overall, I had mixed feelings about Mila 2.0 but I will still give the next book a chance. 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Annabel by Kathleen Winter


About the book
Annabel by Kathleen Winter is a LGBTQ novel. The book was published by Vintage on 1st March 2012 and it is 480 pages long.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret: the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy’s female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as "Annabel," is never entirely extinguished.

What I thought
For my final essay for my Reading Gender and Sexuality class at university, I got to choose either one or two books of my own choice to use with either one or two from the course. The most interesting for me on the course concerned transgender and my sister highly recommended this one to me to use as well.

Annabel tells the story of a family living in a remote town in Canada. The town is very male driven, with the men of each family going out to hunt etc. Women are mostly stay at home mums and very few of them have ‘important’ jobs. When Jacinta and Treadway have a baby, everything changes. The baby is born a hermaphrodite and the couple have no idea how to deal with that, let alone how to bring the baby up. I really enjoyed the slow build up in this novel, as the setting is a very important thing. Being set in a town where different is not celebrated, and due to it being set in the late ‘60s, Kathleen Winter addresses issues which would have been seen to be controversial.

As Jacinta and Treadway bring up baby Wayne, it is never clear whether or not it was the right thing to do. The novel questions whether how a person is brought up can really affect the way they turn out later in life. Treadway never wants to admit that Wayne could actually be more female and feminine so he spends a lot of time and effort trying to teach Wayne the ‘right’ ways to be a man especially in the town in which they live. It was interesting to see the different influences that different people had on Wayne as this showed both his masculine and feminine side.

Winter makes sure that the reader gets to see things from all sides, which was something I really appreciated. I don’t think that I would have cared as much about Wayne, had I not gotten to know his parents and friends and how each separate person treated him. Wayne on his own was a wonderful character though and one who was easy to warm to. For a large part of the book, Wayne doesn’t know anything about when he was born and what the family went through so admission and acceptance are strong themes within the novel. A lot of time is spent on Wayne’s childhood and him being a teenager which were some of the best chapters of this book. From following Wayne as a baby right until his twenties, Winter makes it possible to understand and have empathy for him.

Annabel is a really important novel which tackles some serious issues. What I loved so much about this is the crossover into the young adult genre. I think that this book appeals a lot to adults as well as young adults and there is something in there for everyone. The novel is beautifully and thoughtfully written and one which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Book to Film Review: Confessions of a Shopaholic


About the film
Confessions of a Shopaholic is a comedy film which is based on the book of the same name by Sophie Kinsella. It is rated PG and has a runtime of 104 minutes. The film was released in February 2009. I haven’t read the book so I didn’t have anything to go on before watching the film.

Plot
Rebecca Bloomwood is a journalist for a garden magazine and a shopaholic living in New York. All she has ever wanted was to work for a top fashion magazine.

On the way to an interview for a job at fashion magazine, Rebecca is drawn towards a sale and just can’t help herself. There's an amazing green scarf that she wants but most of her cards are already maxed. She meets Luke Brandon on the street while trying to get the $20 she's short and he gives it to her just so he can’t get his hotdog. When she gets to the fashion magazine she finds out the job has already been filled by an extremely beautiful blonde.

Her and her friend Suze gets really drunk that night and she ends up writing 1 letter to the fashion magazine and 1 to Luke Brandon, who's an editor of a financial magazine but they get mixed up which results in Rebecca getting a job....but not the one she wanted.

Although Rebecca is in a lot of debt herself, she ends up being quite successful at helping people sort out their own debt. No one else knows about her debt and the debt collector who's chasing her. Rebecca is getting even more successful at work while every other aspect of her life is going downhill including her friendship with Suze and her new relationship with Luke.

When the truth about Rebecca’s debts threatens to be revealed, she must do everything possible to sort her life out. 

What I thought
As I said before, I haven’t read this book but I did thoroughly enjoy this film. Maybe I would have had different feelings towards it though had I read the book beforehand. I know a fair few people who have read it and said that the film is nowhere near as good as the book.

Isla Fisher is really the only well-known actor in the movie and even then, she is probably only well-known to people who used to watch Home and Away. Playing protagonist Rebecca, Fisher does a great job. I thought she played her part really well and was quite funny. The situations that Rebecca gets herself into require Fisher to be silly and have fun which can’t be a bad thing for a job. She had my giggling a lot, especially at the part where she tries dancing with Luke in Miami. It’s great to see someone making a fool out of themselves.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Hugh Dancy who plays love interest Luke. His character was pretty boring for the most part and I couldn’t really see what Rebecca saw in him apart from the fact that he had money. However, my dislike of him was more down to the script and the plot rather than the actor’s abilities. Had the script been better for Luke and funnier in places, I think I probably would have liked him a lot more. Dancy did have good on-screen chemistry with Fisher though so it wasn’t all bad when it came to him.

Secondary characters in this film were quite surprising. John Goodman and Joan Cusack play Rebecca’s mum and dad and this was some genius casting. Although these characters aren’t featured too much, they are a great addition to the cast and every moment they were on screen was great. Krysten Ritter plays Rebecca’s best friend Suze and again, this was great casting. Ritter has been in other comedies such as What Happens in Vegas and she really does have amazing comedic timing. Her character was quirky and fun but was able to be sensible at the same time which made her likeable.

The film also had a lot of 'feel good' moments and of course it had a happy ending. Confessions of a Shopaholic has a wonderful mix of comedy mixed in with a good message about being able to manage your finances, which I think is very important especially in today’s financial climate. I have my own credit card debts which I am desperately trying to get rid of so I could connect with the plot of this film quite easily.

Confessions of a Shopaholic is definitely a chick flick and I don’t think too many guys would like this one. Now that I’ve seen the film I would really like to read these books and see what the differences are. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Just One Day by Gayle Forman


About the book
Just One Day is the first book in a series by Gayle Forman. It was published by Random House on 10th January and the book is 384 pages long.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

What I thought
I have a huge thing about books set in Paris, mainly because I have never been myself and I am dying to go. So, when I heard about this book, I knew it was one I had to read.

Best friends Allyson and Melanie have just graduated high school and are on a big tour of Europe. While in the UK, waiting to see Hamlet in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the girls hear about Guerrilla Will, who are putting on an alternative production of Twelfth Night. With the help of a seriously hot actor, the girls ditch the real play and rebel by going off to see something different. Afterwards, the guy playing Sebastian, Willem begins talking to the girls and getting to know more about them. I really enjoyed the beginning of Just One Day. Gayle Forman gives a good introduction to the main characters and one that is exciting and different.

What I loved about Allyson was how American she is. I know that sounds like a really strange reason but as the beginning of the book is England and then Paris. The Americanisms come out thick and fast, with Forman reminding us as readers that Allyson is far away from home, experiencing completely different cultures from what she is used to. Then there is also the fact that Allyson is a quiet and reserved kind of girl. She isn’t loud and outgoing or very brave for that matter either. However, once she meets Willem, and discusses her disappointment of not being able to visit Paris, everything changes. Willem brings out something daring in Allyson, partly by giving her a nickname and helping her to realise she can be whoever she wants to be. It doesn’t take long for Allyson to take a massive risk and head off to Paris for a day with Willem, leaving her best friend in London.

Now, although I loved the excitement of running away to Paris, which is something I would have easily done a couple of years ago, I did have problems with it too. Melanie, the best friend, barely tries to talk Allyson out of it. Yes, she says it could be dangerous because she doesn’t know Willem but she is far from convincing and she doesn’t try very hard to stress what kind of situation Allyson could be putting herself into. If it were me, I would have probably run off to Paris without anyone knowing, so no one could say these things to me but that is not the case here. I did run off to Canada and so many of my friends were very worried about what I was doing and where I was staying and talked to me about it for a long time. Even now, after doing some pretty crazy things myself, I would still seriously talk to a friend (especially a best friend) about running off with a stranger.

That aside, Allyson and Willem go on an adventure to Paris. Willem was charming, sweet and very mysterious. Once in Paris, it quickly becomes apparent that he is a womaniser, other girls knowingly checking him out and some other girls making it clear who they have once been to him. However, the chemistry between Allyson and Willem was fantastic and you could feel it immediately after they met. Theirs was definitely a whirlwind romance, which ends in many, many tears after Allyson finds Willem gone the next morning leaving her stranded in Paris.

I actually really loved the portion of the book set in Paris but it was no way near enough for me. I wanted more time, more sights seen, more magical moments but unfortunately, Allyson heads back to London and then home again to start college. I did feel sorry for Allyson, being heartbroken and a mess but I didn’t enjoy the time spent with her at college. Yes, it was sad to see her in such a state over one thing that happened to her, and it was interesting to see her trying to cope with life afterwards but I just wanted more of Paris. I feel as though the one day spent there could have been drawn out more to make the whole thing much more important.

It wasn’t until Allyson begins to sort her life out and decides to head back to Paris that I started to enjoy this book again. The whole middle section was just too boring and bland for me and I hated to see Allyson moping about all of the time. Once she had a bit more to her, a bit more bravery and determination, I was much more interested in what was going on. I guess I thought that with the title, the book would be spent over the course of one day in Paris but instead, it shows the importance of the one day and how just one day can affect someone so much.

Just One Day was a mixed experience for me. I wanted to love it but I couldn’t. 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Film Review: D.E.B.S.



About the film
D.E.B.S. is an action/ comedy film that was released in 2004. The film has a run time of 91 minutes and a rating of 12A.

Plot
After taking an aptitude test with hidden meanings, Amy, Max, Janet and Dominique are recruited by the U.S. government. They are a part of a secret agency known as D.E.B.S. These girls can lie, cheat and fight and are out to save the world. However, the deadliest criminal the world has ever known as resurfaced from hiding. No one has ever faced Lucy Diamond and lived to tell the tale… until now. Hot shot Amy is fascinated by Lucy and is writing a paper on her so when she finally comes face to face with the enemy, she cannot turn her in. Amy ends up falling for Lucy and risks her whole career with the D.E.B.S. to be with her.

What I thought
One afternoon while I was at home from uni for a week, I was sick and spent a whole day on the sofa watching film. Although most of the DVDs in our house are mine, there are a few of John’s that I haven’t seen. I decided to try to work my way through them and the first one I noticed was this one. After only the first couple of minutes, I quickly regretted putting this on.

D.E.B.S. is pretty much an excuse to film girls running around in tiny school girl outfits trying to fight some bad guys. Sara Foster, Meagan Good, Devon Aoki and Jill Ritchie star as the main D.E.B.S. unit. Amy, Max, Janet and Dominique all work together as a team and are the ones wanted to bring down the infamous Lucy Diamond played by Jordana Brewster. The dialogue between the four girls is mostly really cheesy and while the film has a Charlie’s Angels feel to it, it is not nearly as good. I guess D.E.B.S. is a slight parody of Charlie’s Angels anyway though and it wasn’t supposed to be a serious attempt at being like it.

As this is a really cheap and cheesy film, the action scenes are nothing to be impressed with. The girls run around a lot with impressive looking guns and technology although they don’t really get to use them much. However, there is plenty of posing with said guns and trying to look as badass as possible. This didn’t work at all for me though and instead of looking dangerous, it made me laugh more than anything. I do see how this film would attract a male audience. What guy wouldn’t want to see girls running around in tiny skirts shooting people?

As for the plot, that was also extremely weak. Lucy Diamond is supposed to big this big, badass criminal but the first time we meet her, she’s getting all freaked out about going on a blind date. She seemed like a bit of a wuss to me. Although, her blind date was with a Russian assassin so maybe I would be freaked out at the same time. Really though, while Jordana Brewster is a good actress, her character in this film was terrible. Not once did I feel like she could be a criminal. Instead, I just got the impression that she was lonely and she actually came across as quite nice to me. The D.E.B.S. don’t even seem too terrified of her and Lucy is supposed to be the world’s biggest criminal.

Then there is the lesbian aspect of the plot. Again, a way to attract the male audience. Strangely though, I thought that this was something really different for this kind of film and I quite liked it. Although some bits were very out of place and a bit weird, I think the main message was that love can be found in unexpected places and people. The story between Amy and Lucy was quite heart-warming and it was something which made this film stand out. Sara Foster and Jordana Brewster do really well acting together and while their chemistry wasn’t sizzling, it was still a nice thing to watch.

Overall, D.E.B.S. is a very strange and silly film but one which is quite funny in place. However, I do think it is more suited towards a male audience. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger


About the book
Parrotfish is a young adult book by Ellen Wittlinger. It was published in America by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on 10th July 2007 and the book is 294 pages long.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Angela Katz-McNair has never felt quite right as a girl. Her whole life is leading up to the day she decides to become Grady, a guy. While coming out as transgendered feels right to Grady, he isn't prepared for the reaction he gets from everyone else. His mother is upset, his younger sister is mortified, and his best friend, Eve, won't acknowledge him in public. Why can't people just let Grady be himself?

Grady's life is miserable until he finds friends in some unexpected places -- like the school geek, Sebastian, who explains that there is precedent in the natural world (parrotfish change gender when they need to, and the newly male fish are the alpha males), and Kita, a senior who might just be Grady's first love.

What I thought
As part of one of my university classes, I have to write an essay on a topic of my choosing as long as it fits with the Gender and Sexuality subject. The book from the course I am using is Trumpet by Jackie Kay and I’m writing about transgender. This led me to browsing books on Amazon about the subject and I came across this one.

Parrotfish is told from protagonist Grady’s point of view. However, Grady was actually born a girl although has never felt like one. Set in modern day America, Grady comes out to his family as transgendered and expresses his wishes to be called Grady, instead of Angela. Grady was a cute character, knowing exactly who he was and what he wanted out of life. It was refreshing to see someone so confident in themselves, especially someone going through the struggles of people understanding him. Grady has a wonderful narrative voice, if not a bit juvenile at times.

This book is all about coming out as transgendered and other people’s reactions. Society can still be very harsh when it comes to people a little hard to understand sometimes, people who are different from the norm. Not only does this book show Grady’s struggles at school but also in his home life. While his father is pretty understanding, just wanting Grady to be happy, his mother is not quite the same. She has trouble understanding why Angela wants to be called Grady, why her precious daughter chopped off her hair and wears boys clothes from a charity shop. Ellen Wittlinger shows that sometimes it is family members who have the hardest time accepting change and I think she did a great job in showing this through Grady’s mother.

At school, Grady’s life is far from easy. Most of the other kids don’t know what to do or say when teachers start calling Angela Grady. Some of the kids don’t really have a problem with him at all but then there are a select few characters who are determined to make Grady’s life hell. I felt so sorry for Grady during the times set in school because all he wanted to do was get on with his life as he felt was right but instead, he was subjected to some quite harsh bullying. However, there are some saviours at school for Grady such as his gym teacher and new found friends Sebastian and Kita. These secondary characters were fantastic and it was nice to see that Grady did have people that understood him.   

Parrotfish is heart-warming and extremely informative about a subject I barely knew anything about. Wittlinger’s writing makes you fall in love with her characters and really hope everything works out okay for them. 

Thursday, 21 March 2013

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith


About the book
This Is What Happy Looks Like is a stand-alone young adult novel by Jennifer E. Smith. The book is published by Headline on 4th April (HB) and 23rd October (PB) and it is 224 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a proof for review.  

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

What I thought
I really enjoyed Jennifer E. Smith’s first book, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight but this one sounded so much better and I couldn’t wait to read it. Headline were lovely to send me a copy and there was also a great Twitter promotion of bloggers nominating other bloggers to receive a copy.

Graham and Ellie first meet through a mis-sent email. Although the email was a mistake, the pair hit it off, having a funny and witty banter between them and they carry on emailing each other, even though they don’t know each other. I normally don’t like books where you have to follow things like letters/ texts/ emails but luckily, this doesn’t happen the whole way through the book. The emails are used only at the beginning of the book and for a few small other parts throughout. However, the emails were very cute and funny and it was a great initial way of getting to know the main characters.

After the initial emails, we get transported to middle of nowhere, Maine, where Ellie lives. What I loved so much about Ellie was that she was so down to earth and normal. She knows there is this big movie in town filming for a month and she doesn’t even care about there being a hot teen actor in town – unlike her best friend Quinn. Ellie is also a lovely girl, which shows very quickly. I really liked her whole reaction to finding out who she had really been emailing. I know that most girls would throw themselves at someone like that but Ellie is not like most girls. She is reserved and a bit worried about who he is, what it all means and how he couldn’t have told her before.

I have read books before with an actor has been one of the main characters. However, Graham is completely different from what I expected. His journey to fame was quite unexpected and Graham is actually very grounded. He doesn’t take advantage of his fame, nor does it seem that he even enjoys it. This is what made me love him so much. All he wanted to do was meet the girl he had been emailing, to have a real conversation with someone who knows the real him. The way he went about things was a little strange though but I’ll forgive him for that.

The time spent between Ellie and Graham was wonderful, with each character really getting to know the other and what they’re all about. Their journey together was so nice to read about and heart-warming too. What else was great was seeing two very different people, and people from completely different worlds, coming together and learning to understand each other. Both live lives at the opposite ends of the spectrum from each other but neither was necessarily better than the other.  

The plot was far from exciting although it was wonderfully sweet. This is a book that doesn’t need massive, shocking things to happen in order for it to be extremely entertaining. The setting is also fabulous. The little town in Maine where Ellie lives provides a very calming setting and one which is described very well. Although the town is small, it becomes somewhere swarming with tourists during the summer and I really loved the descriptions of the little, quirky shops in town and how it is a place famous for lobster. All of these things were so helpful in order to picture where the book was set.

This Is What Happy Looks Like is the perfect story of first loves and unexpected miracles. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Out of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys


About the book
Out of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys is a young adult novel. It was published by Puffin on 7th March and the book is 352 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Josie Moraine wants out of The Big Easy - she needs more than New Orleans can offer. Known locally as a brothel prostitute's daughter, she dreams of life at an elite college, far away from here.

But then a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie caught between her ambition and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans is luring Josie deeper in as she searches for the truth, and temptation beckons at every turn.

What I thought
The synopsis for this book had me the moment I read it. Set in New Orleans in the ‘50s, Ruta Sepetys has created a novel which is instantly intriguing and mysterious. The setting alone is a magical thing, with all sorts going on all over the place. The descriptions of New Orleans, although sometimes a little scary and creepy, were wonderful and the whole place was given life. What I loved the most about the setting was how many different varieties of people it brought into the story. At a time when there was a lot happening, the characters in this book all have something very different to offer and all are extremely unique.

Protagonist of the novel is Josie, the daughter of a (somewhat high-market) prostitute. She hates what reputation her mother has and how other people see her because of who she is. Josie is nothing like her mother and never will be. She wants to escape New Orleans and dreams of going to college. I really admired and respected Josie because she had such big dreams. Her life could have been a lot different, and maybe easier, had she followed in her mother’s footsteps which was a big possibility in some ways. Josie is also a really strong and determined character, who isn’t really afraid of anyone and just wants to go about her own life in peace and quiet.

While Josie was a great protagonist, I do feel as though maybe some secondary characters overshadowed her. Namely Willie, the brothel’s madam along with the women who worked there. Due to the line of work, there are so many strong personalities but again, all are fantastic in their own way. It was strangely exciting to see how a brothel could and would have been run during the ‘50s (or at any time really) because it is a subject so far away from the society we live in today. Yes, there are still prostitutes but back then, it was more of a done thing and not as frowned upon.

What is really different about this novel, apart from the prostitution aspects, is the murder mystery. Sepetys has created a world that really does have something for everyone. I really enjoyed the murder mystery aspect though as it didn’t overpower the rest of the story but there were some great exciting moments. Along with this, there is a soft romance, there is the wonderful literary mentions – something that all book lovers will enjoy and then there is the amazingly written characters who melt your heart and make you want them to achieve everything they desire.

This is the first of Sepetys’ books that I have read and now I want more! 

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Book to Film Review: Les Misérables



About the film
Les Misérables is a British musical drama film that was released at the cinema on 11th January 2013. The film is based on the musical of the same name, and the book of the same name by Victor Hugo. Les Misérables has a run time of 158 minutes and is rated 12A.

Plot
In 1815, prisoner 24601, Jean Valjean is granted parole after serving nineteen years for stealing some bread. However, it doesn’t take him long to get back to his old ways of stealing when a Bishop offers him food and shelter. After being caught, the Bishop once again offers Jean Valjean a chance to start over, to live a better life and become a better man. In order to do this though, he must break his parole conditions, leading prison guard Javert on a chase to track him down.

Eight years later, Jean Valjean has completely turned his life around. He is now the owner of a factory and they mayor of a town. One of his workers, Fantine, is forced into a life of prostitution to support her daughter being looked after by inn keepers elsewhere. She comes into some trouble with the law herself and when Javert is about to arrest her, Jean Valjean vows to look after her. Unfortunately though, Fantine is sick and as she is dying, Jean Valjean promised to go and get her daughter Cosette and take care of her.

Another nine years later, Cosette is all grown up, living a life constantly on the run from Javert with Jean Valjean. During a time where the poor are fighting back and the lead up to the June Rebellion, young Marius Pontmercy sets his eyes on Cosette and realises his life will never be the same, no matter the outcome of the battle to come.

What I thought
Although I have never read the book nor seen the musical stage version of this story, Les Misérables was one of the films that I was most looking forward to seeing this year, even with it being released right at the beginning of the year.

Les Misérables is a slightly different kind of musical film. In other musicals, the songs are pre-recorded and the actors sing in a studio then mime while filming. However, where Les Misérables differs is in the fact that all of the singing was done live. I found this to be an extraordinary thing to be done as I have never heard of it before. Knowing this before seeing the film, I did wonder about how well sung the film would be and how it would affect actor’s performances. Also, there is very little spoken throughout the film, maybe only a couple of lines. Because of this, you are sitting through a 2 and a half hour film that is full of singing.

Taking the main roles in Les Misérables are Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Javert. A lot has been said about these two and their performances. While neither are specifically known for their singing voices, they both do a fantastic job. Crowe has been slightly slated in reviews for not having the best voice but I actually really liked him. As Javert, he’s a mean kind of man who only does his job. I think that Crowe’s singing voice really suited the character and even though he wasn’t perfect, his gruff and deep voice made him seem even meaner to me. I definitely don’t think that Crowe deserves the slating that he’s been getting about his voice.

While I liked Crowe, Jackman was fantastic. As Crowe’s character Javert was a very emotionless character, he didn’t have to show too much in his performance and there is where he differs from Jackman. Jean Valjean is an extremely emotional man in many ways and this was something you could see on Jackman’s face throughout the film. Jackman also has a wonderful voice and one which he is able to use well while acting at the same time. I really liked Jean Valjean’s character as you were able to see so many changes in him over the course of the film. You really get to see how much he changes from his days serving a sentence to when he is the carer of Cosette.

I’m not the biggest fan of Anne Hathaway but I can see why she has been nominated for some many awards for Best Supporting Actress. She isn’t in the film for very long but she is truly unforgettable. As Fantine, Hathaway injects a serious sadness into her character and you can clearly see just how much of a struggle life is for her. There is also the unforgettable scene of her singing one of the best known songs for this film, I Dreamed a Dream. I don’t think I have ever seen someone perform a song with such emotion as Hathaway did and this scene was very moving to watch.

The rest of the cast are also mostly really good. I say mostly because this film did nothing to change my hatred of Amanda Seyfried. As the grown up Cosette, Seyfried does okay but her singing voice annoyed me so much. It was extremely high and shrill and I just didn’t enjoy listening to her. Other memorable cast members include Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier and Sacha Baron Cohen as Thénardier, her husband. However, as good as she was, I think that Baron Cohen is risking playing roles in which she will be stereotyped. Too often does she now play the crazy and eccentric characters. However, saying that, she does do them well.

The stand-out performance for me though was by Samantha Barks who plays Éponine. I read somewhere that Taylor Swift was also up for this role but I am so glad British Barks got it instead. As the girl pining for Marius Pontmercy, Barks is fantastic in her role. I think part of what made her so good was the fact that she has played the same role on the stage, although the characters are a little different. Éponine sings one of my favourite songs of all time, ‘On My Own’ and Barks certainly does it justice. Along with Hathaway’s performance of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, this was one of my favourite parts of the whole film.

The setting is also something that needs to be mentioned. Although a film backed by a lot of money, this film does not have a lavish and extravagant set. The setting calls for some dark, dank and dingy settings showing just how bad some of the living conditions in France were during the time the film is set. Still, the sets and backdrops were fantastic throughout and it was a wonderful film to watch because of this. Even though many of the scenes are set in quite depressing places, there is life and colour injected into the film in small amounts in places which was a nice touch.

Les Misérables is by far one of the best films I have seen in such a long time. With an amazing cast, soundtrack and sets, this is probably the film to go and see at the cinema this year.

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan


About the book
The Tragedy Paper is a stand-alone contemporary young adult novel by Elizabeth LaBan. The book was published by Doubleday Childrens on 10th January and it is 320 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is “Enter here to be and find a friend.” A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants—he just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “It” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim's surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, but she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone ever finds out. Tim and Vanessa begin a clandestine romance, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.

What I thought
I have to say that it was the cover that first attracted me to this book. It is absolutely stunning and although I got sent this for review, I would have immediately picked this up had I seen it in a bookshop.

The Tragedy Paper tells the story of Duncan, a senior at a boarding school in New York. As he is just moving up into senior year, he gets to move dorms and finally have a room of his own. However, these rooms are left to the students by the student staying there the previous year. In this case, Tim. Not only do the seniors get a room of their own but they’re also left with a ‘treasure’. While some students get extravagant gifts of tickets or alcohol, Tim leaves Duncan a pile of CDs. I really liked getting to know Duncan to begin with, although this book isn’t really about him. To begin with Duncan thinks he’s got a bad deal in comparison to other students but in reality, Tim has left him something very important.

I really loved the idea of tradition in The Tragedy Paper. The Irving School has many traditions, the whole room situation only being one of them. Unlike some books with a boarding school setting, this one has a real sense of family and being welcomed by everyone. There is very little bullying going on and it while not everyone is the best of friends, they do all seem to get along ok. Another tradition here is The Tragedy Paper itself, which is a senior project set each year. This is a major theme of the book of course, due to the title of it, but it also weaves in with Tim telling Duncan his own story, which was a great way of intertwining the two.

Speaking of Tim, he narrates the majority of the book through his CDs left to Duncan. I thought that this was a really clever way of his story being told and for him to get to tell it in his own way, without anything being left out. Tim is different than all of the other kids at the school due to the fact that he is albino. However, no one really treats him any differently which was a nice thing to see. Still, he has always felt like quite the outside but his meeting with Vanessa in an airport changes everything. She doesn’t treat him like he is different and they immediately hit it off. I really liked getting to know both Tim and Vanessa and to see what they meant to each other. Their relationship is not the same as most in the terms of a romance but it was still a lovely friendship to read about.

The Tragedy Paper is a beautifully written book and one which I enjoyed very much. However, I did feel a little disappointed with the ending as it didn’t really go how I thought it was going to and I was a felt a bit let down by it. Even with the ending, this book had me hooked from page one! 

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Film Review: So Undercover



About the film
So Undercover is a 2012 action/ comedy film. It was released at the cinema on 7th December 2012 in the UK while the film went straight to DVD in America. The film has a run time of 94 minutes and is rated 12A.

Plot
Instead of going to high school like she should have done, Molly Morris decided to drop out in order to work with her ex-cop dad. The duo spends most of their days chasing down petty thieves and people who cheat on their partners. However, when an FBI agent approaches her to work undercover and an extremely important mission, Molly doesn’t have much choice about accepting. The only problem is, Molly has to go undercover in a sorority in college. She isn’t a girly girl and knows nothing about sisterhood or even friendship. Molly is going to have a harder job than she thought if she’s going to crack this case.

What I thought
Having a Cineworld Unlimited card, I will pretty much go and see anything at the cinema if I have the time. This includes films I’m not overly interested in just on the off chance they are better than I thought they would be. However, some films are exactly as bad as I thought they would be.

Miley Cyrus stars as Molly Morris, a girl working with her dad chasing down criminals of a kind. Molly is a grungy kind of girl, not really caring about how she looks or make-up etc. She rides a motorbike, wears hard leather boots and never bothers with her hair. When she gets approached by the FBI to go undercover in a college sorority, Molly knows she is out of her depth. As Molly is a PI before going undercover, I was surprised to see her doing so many terrible things in regards to the way she acted. At the beginning of the film, she had a microphone in her collar and spent a lot of time clearly talking into it. Surely, if you had an ex-cop for a dad and was a PI yourself, you would know that doing that would easily give you away. The detective actions were just really bad and not believable at all.

Cyrus isn’t the best of actresses and unfortunately, this film shows it. Her performance as a sorority girl is awkward and not easy at all to watch. While I assume she was picked for the role for being young and cute, filling the necessary looks to play an undercover teenage, she was just really bad. I definitely wasn’t expecting an Oscar worthy performance from Cyrus but I wasn’t expecting her to be quite so bad either. Character development for Molly isn’t strong either. I don’t feel as though anything about her character changed or developed over the course of the film apart from maybe that she decided to keep wearing dresses at the end.

As for other characters, they are mostly shallow, superficial, blonde sorority girls who are extremely stereotyped. However, the cast members playing these roles somehow do a lot better than Cyrus does. Maybe this is because their characters aren’t supposed to be anything special and really, they just have to act like they really like pretty things, make-up and boys. Can’t be that hard can it? Then there is the FBI agent Armon who is played by Jeremy Piven. Honestly, he was one of the best performances in the film although that wasn’t exactly a hard thing to achieve. There is also love interest Nicholas played by Josh Bowman although he doesn’t get nearly enough screen time to make his character convincing enough or to justify him being there at all.

Although the cast and characters were pretty terrible, some of the plot wasn’t bad at all. There were quite a few twists and turns concerning the bad guys and this kept me guessing over the course of the film. I liked not really being sure about who everyone was and whether or not they were actually telling the truth. Not all of the plot was great though as there were some especially predictable moments as well as the ending that probably everyone knew was coming. Even though not everything about this film was close to being good, the plot did make up for quite a lot of things. Unfortunately, I think too much was put into a short amount of time so some things weren’t explained as well as they could have been.

So Undercover is an okay teen movie but not one of the best there is.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Vortex by Julie Cross


About the book
Vortex is the second book in the Tempest series by Julie Cross. It was published by Macmillan Children’s Books on 3rd January and the book is 448 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Jackson Meyer has thrown himself into his role as an agent for Tempest, the shadowy division of the CIA that handles all time-travel-related threats. Despite his heartbreak at losing the love of his life, Jackson has proved himself to be an excellent agent. However, after an accidental run in with Holly—the girl he altered history to save—Jackson is once again reminded of what he's lost. And when Eyewall, an opposing division of the CIA, emerges, Jackson and his fellow agents not only find themselves under attack, but Jackson begins to discover that the world around him has changed and someone knows about his erased relationship with Holly, putting both their lives at risk all over again.

What I thought
I’ve had a bit of a thing about books about time travel over the past year so I couldn’t wait to read Vortex. However, the book is a bit of a beast so I put it off for a little while after it arrived.

Vortex starts where Tempest left off, with Jackson trying to put things right and get on with his life without Holly and Adam. In order to achieve this, he joins the Tempest program, a part of the CIA. I really enjoyed the setting of Jackson being a part of Tempest as it is what made this book exciting. Tempest takes Jackson all over the world in his training and it also introduces some great new characters. Kendrick and Stewart, two female members of Tempest get quite large roles in Vortex and although they’re both really different, I loved them both.

With everything that is going on, Jackson himself changes as a character. Unlike the loveable guy we got to know and love in Tempest, he changes quite dramatically at times. With being a part of Tempest and going through a gruelling training scheme, he becomes a bit harder, a bit more guarded and also more determined to make things right. Jackson constantly beats himself up for what happened to Holly before and what he probably could have done to prevent it. Although Jackson does change as a character, I liked this. I think these changes made him a stronger person and also someone who thought things through a bit better.

Unfortunately, when it came to the actual time travel stuff, I just ended up being really confused. Julie Cross uses so much technical terminology and goes into deep and intricate descriptions of how time travel works and I just didn’t get it. Even though Jackson attempts to explain this in a simple way early on, it just made my head hurt. There are full jumps, half jumps, jumps that end up in different worlds – basically too much information in a short space of time that doesn’t make much sense. I really liked the time travel aspect in the first book, Tempest, but I feel like in this one it was overcomplicated for no reason.

The setting of Vortex provides a hell of a lot of excitement. With a fast pace, Vortex doesn’t stop very much for you to catch your breath. There is always something quite big going on and there were plenty of times that I was shocked and just didn’t know where the story would go next. There are so many twists and turns in this book and I sometimes didn’t know if I was coming or going. However, as this is such a big book, it would have ended up being quite boring without all of these things going on.

Vortex was a really mixed book for me. While I liked the excitement of the story, the time travel aspects were far too confusing. 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

A Night Like This by Julia Quinn


About the book
A Night Like This is the second book in the Smythe-Smith Quartet series by Julia Quinn. The book was published by Piatkus on 7th June 2012 and it is 373 pages long.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Anne Wynter’s job as governess to three highborn young ladies can be a challenge – in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he's the first man who has truly tempted her, and it's getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.

Daniel Smythe-Smith might be in mortal danger, but that's not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family's annual musicale, he vows to pursue her. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending...

What I thought
Although this is the second book in a series, it is about different characters than those in the first book… kind of. Anyway, you don’t need to have read the first book although it would help slightly with the characters.

Anne Wynter somehow finds herself playing the pianoforte at the infamous Smythe-Smith yearly musicale. How, she doesn’t really know as she is only a governess. However, while trying to get by as best she can, Anne sets eyes on Daniel Smyth-Smith, who was once banished from the country. She doesn’t know who he is at the time but she cannot keep her eyes off him. Anne was a wonderful protagonist who is full of secrets. She knows that Daniel is off limits, due to her position as a governess but at times, she really doesn’t care. Her first proper meeting with Daniel ends up in a quite passionate kiss and after that, she can’t stop thinking about him.

Daniel, the man who was exiled for accidentally shooting someone, was by far one of my favourite Julia Quinn characters. Even though he is an Earl, never does he act above himself and he isn’t an arse like some of these Aristocrat characters are to begin with at times. There is no false personality with Daniel and that is what I loved about him. Daniel wears his heart on his sleeve and although he should stay away from Anne, he can’t help himself. However, he is more than clear about how much he likes her and what his intentions are. He never treats her as a secret.

The romance between Anne and Daniel was extremely sweet. While Julia Quinn does this well in the rest of her books, I think this was by far the nicest of the romances that she has written. I do think that a lot of that is because of Daniel’s personality and he isn’t like many of her other male characters. Anne’s personality has a lot to do with it too though. She’s feisty and while she is reserved at times, she is outgoing, funny and full of life. Due to her being a governess, Daniel and Anne’s time alone together is quite funny due to the girls always getting in the way. I did love the girls as secondary characters though.

A Night Like This also has a wonderful plot. With Anne keeping her own secrets and Daniel having only recently coming home after three years abroad, there is plenty of excitement and entertainment. With Daniel having enemies from the past, he is put into quite a few difficult and dangerous situations, some while Anne is with him. Although he is sure of who is behind these events, Anne is keeping some very important things to herself. It isn’t until the last third of the book that it is revealed who is behind all of the drama. I loved not knowing who was doing what and what the exact reason behind everything was.

A Night Like This is one of my favourite Julia Quinn novels and I can’t wait to read the next in the series now and to see who that book concentrates on. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young


About the book
On Dublin Street is an Adult/ New Adult novel by Samantha Young. It was published by Penguin on 17th January and the book is 414 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an e-book for review.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare ...

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well - until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street, where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he's determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won't be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her . . . down to the very soul.

What I thought
Although this book has been marketed as an adult novel, it also has a crossover into the new adult genre.

On Dublin Street is told through the narrative of Jocelyn, a recent graduate. Originally from America, Joss has gone from foster family to foster family after a tragic accident that killed her whole family. Her mother was part Scottish and Joss wanted a fresh start. After graduating, Joss’ best friend moved away to London, leaving her to find somewhere new to live. With an inheritance she has barely touched, Joss decides to splash out when she sees a room in a flat up for rent. However, on the way to the viewing, Joss has a run in with an insanely handsome man who goes to share her taxi. The two have instant chemistry but Joss doesn’t have relationships of any kind. Joss heads to her apartment viewing, where she instantly hits it off with Ellie and moves in straight away. Shame the guy she met in the taxi is Ellie’s brother and owner of the apartment.

I really liked Joss as a character and the protagonist of this book. She is extremely feisty and says exactly what she thinks. Both her past in America and her job at a bar have definitely helped with this. As the narrator, Joss has a really strong voice and I enjoyed getting to know her. It was clear that she was far from being a push over but past life experiences got in her way when it came to being happy. After their meeting in the taxi, Joss and Ellie’s brother Braden have quite a few funny meetings. I loved the way that Joss reacted to Braden and she really put him in his place… for a while anyway.

While Joss is determined to not have anything to do with Braden, he has other ideas completely. This is where Joss began to change as a character and not always in a good way. Braden is very possessive and even though he had Joss have nothing going on to begin with, he has no problems telling her that he doesn’t like to share and that he always gets what he wants. While the arrogance did make him kind of hot at times, I also wanted to punch him in the face for being an ass. Braden is soon telling Joss what she can and cannot do this part of their relationship was what I hated. Also, speaking of their relationship, at times it came across as something out of Pretty Woman without the money, sometimes Braden was a bit like Edward Cullen (Ergh!) and then there were times when he really was just an ass. As I was reminded of these things, I cannot say that I completely loved seeing Braden and Joss together.

Although I did have problems with the relationship in this book, it was ridiculously steamy and I loved that part! As a new adult/ adult book, sex scenes are much more explicit than in young adult novels, like I normally read. If you’re not wanting to read anything like this, then this is definitely not the book for you. Joss and Braden have a friends with benefits kind of relationship, although it is really Braden who calls all of the shots. There is a lot of talking dirty to each other, sexting and sex and foreplay in some quite exciting places. Although On Dublin Street does have a serious storyline as well, this aspect of the book really lightened things up.

Speaking of the more serious side of On Dublin Street… Joss has some big problems due to her past but she isn’t the only one. I was surprised to see that Braden wasn’t the perfect character and he had some issues himself. Due to these things, both characters go through massive changes over the course of the book, making the character development fantastic. Although there are some serious issues being tackled here, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Samantha Young adds in humour and some more fun scenes, along with the sex, to give this book something for nearly everyone.

I had really mixed feelings about On Dublin Street. While there were some aspects that I loved, such as secondary characters, the humour and character development, there was also things that I hated.