Confessions of a Hater By Caprice Crane

Confessions of a Hater By Caprice Crane
Published Aug 27th 2013 by Feiwel & Friends
Rating: 4/5


Summary: Mean girls are always the haters – Right?

Hailey Harper has always felt invisible. Now her dad has a new job and the family is moving to Hollywood. Just what Hailey needs: starting a new high school.

As she’s packing, Hailey finds a journal that belonged to her older sister, Noel, who is away at college. Called “How to Be a Hater,” it’s full of info Hailey can really use. Has Hailey found the Bible of Coolness? Will it help her reinvent herself at her new school? Will her crush notice her? Will she and the other Invisibles dethrone the popular mean girls? After all, they deserve it. Don’t they?

Caprice Crane’s funny–and deeply felt–observations about high school, bullies, popularity, friendship, and romance will leave teens thinking…and talking.

Review: I absolutely adored this book. I must admit, I initially picked this book up because of it’s cover but after reading the synopsis I was sold. I have never read Caprice Crane’s adult books and this is her first young adult novel and I must say it was a hilarious read.

The book itself was hilarious. One of the blurbs put it aptly, it sounded like it was written by one of my friends. I really loved how up-to-date it was with all the latest social media sites and familiar songs. It allowed me to greatly resonate with Hailey because of the similarities.

The plot was really interesting. It reminded me a lot of the movie Mean Girls, except the Burn Book is actually a guide to help you become a “hater” (which essentially is what popular girls are). The main character Hailey had a lot of spunk. She was different than most protagonists and I loved how she refused to conform to what popularity should be.

One of the main things I truly enjoyed was the relationships in the book. From friendships to relationships and even within the family, it all brought out a different dynamic to the story. I loved the friendship between Hailey and the girls and how they developed together and depended on each other for support. I also loved that the book was the reason for Hailey and Noel to rekindle their estranged relationship with each other.

One of the things I didn’t particularly enjoy was towards the end, when Hailey decided to self-destruct. I don’t truly understand why she decided to do that what everything was seemingly fixed. It felt like she created the problem, just for the sake of it and not because there was a particular reason that truly provoked her.

In that retrospect, the book dragged on a lot longer than it should have. It felt that the impact of her self-destruction was very minimal to the story and in some ways took the spark away from the book.

Overall, Confessions of a Hater was a surprise. It was an easy funny read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Drummer Girl By Bridget Taylor

Drummer Girl By Bridget Taylor
Published May 2013 by Templar Publishing
Rating: 3/5


Summary: It was supposed to be the summer of her life. Instead, 17-year-old Lucy finds her best friend Harper shot dead in an LA swimming pool. How did it come to this? Lucy Gosling is the drummer in Crush, a rock band formed by five London schoolgirls that has just won the UK semi-final of an international talent contest. But when the band lands in Hollywood for the big final, things are not quite as they seem.
The band’s lead singer, Harper, has just one thing on her mind – using sex, drugs and rock and roll, not to mention Crush itself, to win back her bad-news ex-boyfriend. Lucy must decide whether she’s playing to Harper’s tune, or setting the rhythm for the rest of the band.

Review: Drummer Girl started off with an interesting prologue, but fell short of expectations. The plot of Drummer Girl had such potential but there were aspects of the book that made it less than exciting.

Drummer Girl follows the story of Lucy who is the drummer of the band Crush. Along with her best friend and other friends from school, they enter a band competition and needless to say they won it and are jet set off to Hollywood. A good majority of the story follows the 5 girls and their journey in Hollywood and stardom, rather than in the UK where they actually competed in the talent show (in fact, it skips immediately to the part where they win the competition – not a spoiler, it’s in the summary).

The writing takes a lot of getting used to because we’re not just following the POV of Lucy, but everyone in the band as well as some other characters like former boyfriends and managers. The POVs are not separated by chapters but rather through alternating paragraphs so it gets a little bit confusing if you’re looking to speed through the book.

I didn’t quite enjoy that aspect of the book where there’s so many different voices and some of them are lacking for me, like the pianist Iza. I think Drummer Girl would be better off simply following the voice of one character, namely Lucy who is supposed to be the main character anyway.

I was really disappointed with the climax because it wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. It sounded so good in the prologue but how it happened wasn’t that interesting and the reason why it happened was also lacking for me (since it is a murder mystery).

Though there were flaws in the book, I did like the musical aspect of the story and I did enjoy reading about the life of a musician and the problems that come with it. I also liked how the chapters were titled after different songs from the band’s album, which made the story a little bit more interesting.

I liked it overall, but it’s not a book that I would re-read in the long run.


Firecracker by David Iserson

Firecracker By David Iserson
Published May 16th 2013 by Razorbill
Rating: 4/5


Summary: Being Astrid Krieger is absolutely all it’s cracked up to be.

She lives in a rocket ship in the backyard of her parents’ estate.

She was kicked out of the elite Bristol Academy and she’s intent on her own special kind of revenge to whomever betrayed her.

She only loves her grandfather, an incredibly rich politician who makes his money building nuclear warheads.

It’s all good until…

“We think you should go to the public school,” Dad said.
This was just a horrible, mean thing to say. Just hearing the words “public school” out loud made my mouth taste like urine (which, not coincidentally, is exactly how the public school smells).

Will Astrid finally meet her match in the form of public school? Will she find out who betrayed her and got her expelled from Bristol? Is Noah, the sweet and awkward boy she just met, hiding something?

Find out in this hilarious tragicomedy from New Girl and SNL writer David Iserson!

Review: Let’s be honest – the moment I read “New Girl and SNL writer”, I didn’t even bother reading the blurb and picked it up. I did later read the blurb and found it hilarious so I’m twice as excited.

Astrid Krieger is a firecracker (which is just a nice way to call someone an asshole, as Astrid points out). Astrid is not a like-able person: she’s mean, doesn’t make friends and does a lot of bad things – but Astrid is not a terrible person. She bullies those who bullies others, or rather, those she believes needs to be taken down a notch.

I loved Astrid – she’s such an eccentric character, doing all these crazy things just because she could. I really loved how she developed throughout the book –  she tries, despite herself and it shows. Astrid went from someone who doesn’t care about anything to someone who cares and even loves. The relationship between Astrid and her grandfather touched me greatly, as did her friendship with Noah and Lucy.

Astrid isn’t perfect, but it is her flaws that makes her such a lovable character. Her development came not because she found a ’cause’, but simply over time. I appreciated this aspect of the book, where her change was natural and not imposed. It’s very human and realistic which makes me able to relate to her.

The plot itself was okay, it wasn’t particularly exciting or as funny as I expected it to be. Firecracker is more character driven rather than plot driven. In some aspects perhaps it wouldn’t work, but in this case it does simply because she depends on these friendships and relationships to find out who betrayed her.

Much like an episode of New Girl, Firecracker can either be a hit or miss but for me, it’s a hit. A little slow at the beginning, but picks up quickly once Astrid finds her place. Easy, fun read; recommended for anyone who enjoys David Iserson’s writing or simply wants a humourous book to fill your time.


Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Published July 16th 2013 by Simon Pulse
Rating: 5/5


Summary: Paradise quickly gets gruesome in this thrilling page-turner with a plot that’s ripped from the headlines and a twist that defies the imagination.

It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Awaiting the judge’s decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone ever imagined…

Review: Dangerous Girls is fantastic. I don’t know how to put it into words except read it, read it, read it, you need to read it.

Dangerous Girls is one of my new favourite books. It is exactly what a murder mystery should be. Admittedly, I haven’t read many mystery books (the last being Prep School Confidential which I also loved) but I can say that this is a mystery book done right.

The plot of the book really sold me – I haven’t read any books that revolved around trials so this was a change I really appreciated. I haven’t read any of Abby McDonald’s (her real name, Abigail Haas is her pseudonym) books so I can’t vouch for her writing but if it is anything like Dangerous Girls, you bet I’m sold. I enjoyed the two different accounts of what happened at spring break and at the trial and alternating chapters.

Between the alternating accounts, the pacing was great. I appreciated that there wasn’t a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter, but simply accusations versus reality. It was done simply and intertwined so easily.

The plot as a whole is leading towards a mature group of the YA group. There is a lot of vices involved, as it usually does with spring break. The book reminded me a lot of the movie Spring Break, only much better and less… pretentious. There’s a lot of relatable characters and many story lines that reflect our current society, all while remaining true to being a mystery.

I’m sure we’ve all met an Elise at some point in our lives, that wild party girl that will stop at nothing. Timid and always cautious (aka the wet blanket – you always have one of those in your group of friends) Mel, the second head bitch in charge Anna and the boys that roll with the group.

The book is realistic, which I think is why I loved the book a lot. It’s thought provoking and has a lot of ‘what would you do if you were in their shoes?’ situations. It gives you a real insight of a friendship between girls, a real account of what happens when crazy nights gets out of control.

I’m not familiar with the judicial system in America, let alone Aruba so I can’t vouch for the realism of that particular area. It did, however, add a lot of depth to the story. I found myself guessing who killed Elise and each time it gets more frustrating because you can’t help but root for Anna’s not guilty verdict.

The ending was mind blowing. I didn’t at all see that coming and I honestly thought I had it all figured out. I went back the last couple of chapters, read and re-read thinking I must have missed something but no. It was such a fantastic twist that will keep you thinking: how did I not see that coming?

I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fast-paced mystery or a good book – you will not be disappointed!


45 Pounds (More Or Less) by K. A. Barson

45 Pounds (More or less) by K. A. Barson
Published July 11th 2013 by Viking Juvenile
Rating: 4/5


Summary: Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:

She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.

Welcome to the world of infomercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!

Review: 45 pounds is a good book. It is well written, funny and honest. 45 pounds revolves around Ann and her struggle with weight loss and trying to find comfort in her own skin. Ann has always been on the heavier side and everyone around her seems to be of “normal” weight, especially her mother. So when Ann gets an invitation to her aunt’s wedding, she decides to lose 45 pounds before the wedding with the help of an infomercial weight loss programme.

45 pounds really hits home for me. I have been in a position where I really loathed how I looked or thought “we’ll I gained a few pounds, might as well eat this cheeseburger”. Ann is so honest with her feelings and I understood where she coming from and the struggles that she’s having with everyone calling her fat. Ann’s progression in the book was so phenomenal. Her character grew in so many ways that I just beamed from chapter to chapter. I really liked Ann as a protagonist because while she was honest, she wasn’t too honest that made her hateful. There are bits and bobs where I found her to be a tad bratty, especially when it came to her family which did turn me off initially but because she made strides to try and change and accept the help she’s offered, her character as a whole developed nicely and rather wholesome. Ann’s relationship development with her mother is definitely one that I enjoyed reading about as well as her friendship with Raynee.

Now on to the things i didn’t like. One in particular was Ann’s relationship with her best friend. I’m not sure if I just missed it but I don’t seem to recall why they stopped being friends or why she’s the way she is. It didn’t even seem like they had a relationship, even as they met up. There was no indication that they were best friends, even if it was a while ago. It’s redundant in the sense that she’s supposedly the best friend but she rarely shows up and is so insignificant even though she’s the “best friend” and is one of the “issues” that Ann was facing earlier on in the book.

I’m also not really a big fan of the love interest. We didn’t get to see much of him nor their relationship so it was a little bit odd to always see him mentioned but you know nothing about this guy. It’s just hard to root for a fella you don’t know, okay?

There are a lot of great discussion topics that come with this book. As society progresses on, we become more self conscious and a lot of the time I hear young girls worry about how they look or if they’re fat or not. Not everybody can look like the cookie cutter Hollywood star and this book could really reach out to the masses and tell them: it’s okay to be you. We shouldn’t be so obsessed with how we look or what we eat, so much that we starve ourselves to look “better”. You can be the best version of yourself by doing it the healthy and right way. And of course, we shouldn’t forget the little things like seeking comfort in supportive friends and family. 45 pounds is such a wonderful read, with so much real potential in helping to change mind sets.


Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor
Prep School Confidential #1
Published July 30th 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: 5/5


Summary: In this breathtaking debut that reads like Gossip Girl crossed with Twin Peaks, a Queen Bee at a blue-blooded New England prep school stumbles into a murder mystery.

Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn’t care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school.

When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.

Review: Leave all your Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars comparisons at the door. Okay, I admit, I partially did read it because of the Gossip Girl comparison (what can I say, my 14 year old self devoured each and every book). Prep School Confidential reads nothing like Gossip Girl.

I really enjoyed Anne’s transition from a bored misfit to such a strong female protagonist, determined to find the truth about what happened to her roommate Isabella. With each chapter, I find myself rooting for Anne more and more, liking her a lot more than I did at the start. Anne started off as your typical bratty teenager but quickly became likable after Isabella was found dead. She was determined to bring justice for her friend and I found her keeping tabs on the news feeds for Isabella’s murder case very heartwarming.

Anne doesn’t give up. Even in the face of danger and threats, she will do anything to find out who killed Isabella. One of my most favourite things about Anne is how she doesn’t whine – she cries occasionally when she’s shaken, but she never lets it stop her from unravelling the truth. Anne Dowling does not falter and that’s why I love her.

The plot as a whole wasn’t anything particularly new but Taylor does it in such a way that is absolutely divine. Everyone at Wheatley has a secret – especially the administration. Anne interacts with all these different people and we learn a lot of different things that leads back to one particular event. Taylor kept me in suspense; there was a lot of “who done it?!” and you’re kept on your toes. There were many times when I thought I knew who the killer was only to learn something else that didn’t fit. Taylor weaves all these little information and people together seamlessly in such an engaging manner.

This book was refreshing and entertaining from cover to cover. I enjoyed Anne as a main character and all the little characters in the book. I also enjoyed the love triangle, although I thought one of the relationships blossomed in a really odd way/wasn’t during an appropriate time. I liked that the love aspect wasn’t a big part of the book and it focused primarily on the murder.

Overall, this book was such a brilliant read. I wouldn’t have guessed that this was Kara Taylor’s debut book. I will definitely be picking up her next book when it comes out next year.


Game. Set. Match. by Jennifer Iacopelli

Game. Set. Match. by Jennifer Iocopelli
Outer Banks Tennis Academy #1
Published May 1st 2013 by Coliloquy, LLC
Rating: 4/5


Summary: Nestled along the North Carolina coast, the Outer Banks Tennis Academy is the world’s most elite training facility. In this pressure-cooker environment, futures are forged in blood and sweat, and dreams are shattered in an instant.

Penny Harrison, a rising female star, is determined to win the French Open and beat her arch-rival, Zina Lutrova. But when her coach imports British bad boy Alex Russell as her new training partner, will Penny be able to keep her laser-like focus?

Tennis is all Jasmine Randazzo has ever known. The daughter of two Grand Slam champions, she’s hell-bent on extending her family’s legacy and writing her own happily-ever-after…until her chosen Prince Charming gives her the just-friends speech right before the biggest junior tournament of the year, the Outer Banks Classic.

With a powerful serve and killer forehand, newcomer Indiana Gaffney is turning heads. She’s thrilled by all of the attention, especially from Jack Harrison, Penny’s agent and hot older brother, except he keeps backing off every time things start heating up.

With so much at stake, dreams—and hearts—are bound to break. Welcome to OBX: Where LOVE is a four-letter word, on and off the court.

Review: Finally, my first read for the Debut Author Challenge 2013!

Game. Set. Match. was surprisingly hard to put down. I love tennis, so naturally the premise intrigued me enough to pick the book up. I’ve never actually read much sports-related books, despite my love for it and to my surprise, this book was very well written and completely sucked me in. This book is told in three different perspectives: Penny Harrison (golden girl of OBX), Jasmine Randazzo (child of tennis royalty) and Indiana “Indy” Gaffney (upcoming tennis prodigy).

One of the main things I liked about this book was how it was a good blend of tennis and an exploration of their lives. I find that even if I didn’t like or know anything about tennis, I’d still be able to understand and pick up all the different tennis terminologies used in the book. It wasn’t so tennis-heavy, such that each page was just tournament after tournament so it doesn’t get boring and when there is a tournament, it gets really exciting. The descriptions of the game throughout the book was lovely. I was able to imagine the game happening in my head and I really enjoyed that about the book.

Apart from all the tennis, a good portion of the book is dedicated to the relationships the characters have, with each other, their agent and all that comes with being a professional tennis player. We get to see how these three main characters’ lives intertwine with each other and how they cope with the pressure and even some locker room drama. And of course, the romance. We get not only one, but three different romantic links and we begin to see how things progress throughout the book. There wasn’t any insta-love, that happens quite frequently in YA books and for a book that has three romances going on, all three love lines were well written, well thought and well developed.

The one thing that bothered me about this book was Indy’s excessive use of the word friggin which made her look incredibly juvenile. I found that her description of her love interest was already so cheesy and her saying someone is friggin hot made me roll my eyes and laugh. I don’t know if this is supposed to be her “pet word” of sorts, but it seemed a little much and unnecessary, considering how Indy is actually already pretty cool.

I also found the ending a little bit cheesy but considering it is the first book in the series, it’s not too big of an issue. Overall, Game. Set. Match. was a very good read and I’m really looking forward to see how the series picks up.


2013 Debut Author Challenge

I came across this challenge whilst reading Little Book Owl and was quickly intrigued into doing it. I’ve thought about it for a while and now that I’m done with uni for a while, I figured I’d give this challenge a shot. This challenge is hosted by Tara of Hobbitsies. This challenge will last all through till January 31, 2014 so there will be plenty of time (even though I’m late to the reading party!) for me to catch up 🙂

Here are my 12 picks for the challenge:

I managed to get a bit of a mix in there with the dystopian and contemporary novels. I’m mostly excited to read Starstuck which is a historical fiction book and I’ve never really read one of those. I managed to get all of these in ebook format so I’ll be lugging these books in my kindle for the next couple of months.

Will you be reading any of these books?

Check out the books on Goodreads:

  1. Reboot by Amy Tintera
  2. Dr Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
  3. The Last Academy by Anne Applegate
  4. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
  5. Game Set Match by Jennifer Iacopelli
  6. 45 Pounds by K.A. Barson
  7. Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook
  8. Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor
  9. Starstruck by Rachel Shukert
  10. Dualed by Elsie Chapman
  11. The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher
  12. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West