Tuesday, 26 August 2014

REVIEW: My Name Is Rapunzel, by KC Hilton


Review contains spoilers

Genre: Young-Adult, Teen, Romance, Fantasy

Rapunzel is about to get married and run away with the love of her life-Henry. But their plan is interrupted when the witch, Gretta, intervenes and ruins Rapunzel's life forever.

As a young girl she befriended Gretta and promised never to leave her; little did she know the seriousness of this promise. When Gretta sees her try to escape with Henry she curses Rapunzel to immortality- frozen in her current young woman state. 

After losing Henry and ultimately her parents, Rapunzel moves into the family castle with Gretta, being guarded by the dragon, and lives hundreds of years in solitude and grievance for Henry. 

Then in current day, Rapunzel decides to tell her story to a journalist; John Jenkins. And thus begins the start of a plot-twisting romance and Rapunzel gets a second chance of escape...but it won't be an easy fight.

My Thoughts:
I love fairy-tales and this really sounded like a novel that I'd enjoy. I think the main issue with it for me was that it was more suitable for younger teens more so than young adults. 

The story held a lot of promise; Rapunzel's true love, Henry, being banished from the start and subsequently turning out to be the dragon who tried to protect her and then a love-triangle. 

However, the story just fell apart, soon after it began and never really got back together.

  • Rapunzel~ all talk and no action. She constantly moaned or dreamt about escape and how she wanted to leave Gretta but didn't because... ? Gretta would never let her. Well, Gretta's power fell through a lot but I'll get on to that in a moment. Rapunzel reads John Jenkins' sceptical article about fairy-tales and she feels the need to write to him with her "story." And in a "letter" to him that read more like a flashback novel, we find out about Luke, her son (not really but she becomes his guardian) and his story- and by the end we find out the whole story was pointless. There was no purpose whatsoever. It also didn't make sense that Rapunzel, after making it quite clear that she could not go into town for fear she'd be noticed and her secret revealed, writes a letter to a journalist confessing her tale who would ultimately want to publish said story. So her wanting for secrecy fell through here. And considering she sacrificed further love because of Henry, she fell for John way too easily.

  • Gretta~ the "powerful" witch. As I said, Rapunzel was in fear of her. She had cursed Rapunzel and had to live with her and Rapunzel could never escape because of her. There was a constant threat of Gretta but never any evidence. There were the spells she did at the start, obviously, and the bit at the end... but in the middle? There was no evidence of any brutality or evilness. Rapunzel was able to follow Gretta into town one morning, go out for coffee another, go out with John a few times; but yet she couldn't run away because Gretta would know. How? How could she punish her if she was thousands of miles away?!  Rapunzel didn't even try to escape or defeat her. Just accepted her fate and spent 250 odd years complaining about it. If it were me, I would've died trying to escape (if it were possible that I could- if not, well I'd have no excuse for not trying!) There was also no real indication as to why Gretta wanted Rapunzel or her hair, everything was just insinuated and this was only sort of answered in the final few chapters.

  • Plot~ held so much promise, didn't deliver. Henry was the dragon, okay good idea. But when that was revealed it was a bit too much of a surprise/unbelievable; for 250 years this dragon supposedly "protected" Rapunzel, but we never really got a great idea if he was protecting her or holding her prisoner. He still loved her and claimed that he had hoped their love would stand the test of time but yet never once did he try and explain who he was or what had happened! John made the ultimate sacrifice for the woman he loved, and became her "hero" by taking Henry's place as the dragon. Cute and romantic gesture but then Rapunzel just happily went off with Henry to have their happily ever after. She claimed to love John too and yet didn't even react to him giving up his life as a human!?

  • Characters~ no development. Rapunzel, Henry, John, Gretta... all of them just lacked. They lacked depth and lacked major development. John wavered between loving and trusting Rapunzel to having speculated her all along and Henry, being honest I didn't trust him at the start and didn't feel his love for Rapunzel despite all the writing about how true and powerful their love was. 

Overall, I would recommend this book to much younger readers who don't read too much into books or aren't avid readers. Unfortunately, I have read too many that I cannot overlook all the red flags throughout this book. I expected so much more and it ultimately fell through on poor writing and an under developed characters. There were too many holes in the plot and as a novel with romance, the romance was never believable or heartfelt. 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

REVIEW: The Secret History, by Donna Tartt


Review contains spoilers

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Literary Fiction

Richard Papen arrives at Hampden College and gets involved with five other students- Bunny, Francis, Henry, Charles and Camilla- who all share a love for Greek Classics. Attending all classes under the eccentric Julian, they are segregated from the rest of the college students.
All with an air of secrecy, Richard tries his best to infiltrate the tight circle of friends, and gradually uncovers the dangers of which the group are involved in. After taking part in an ancient ritual, the group murder a farmhand and all decide to keep it quiet. When one member of the group is found to be less trusting, they are forced to get rid of him. Following his death, the group spiral out of control as a murder mystery unfolds and more drama ensues.

My Thoughts:
Where to begin with this book... I think this is one of those books that you either "get" or don't... and unfortunately I don't. 
I had been warned that this takes a good while to get into but was worth the read, so I persevered and really wanted to like it... but being honest I didn't enjoy reading it. 
My reasons for not enjoying/liking this novel are as follows;
  1. Richard; there was absolutely no traits to prove his gender, occasionally he mentioned his love/affection for a character but their gender didn't matter and his lack of credibility just set the novel on a downward slope from the start. He was as dull as cardboard; he seemed to never have an opinion and if he did he never stood up for what it was. There was a scene where he gets with a girl at a party- he apparently was glad of this hook-up but did we get any emotion from him? No.
  2. Characters; the rest of the group also lacked credibility. I made exceptions and allowances for their personalities to be different, as I would for characters in any novel. But after committing murder - twice - Tartt tried to portray a sense of remorse that just seemed forced and fake. Francis Henry Francis Henry- what on Earth was going on between those two and which was which? And the twins? Character building was definitely not on Tartt's list of things to include in this. Many things were suggested and hinted at, but rarely confirmed or elaborated. Now, I know the whole "show not tell" theory in writing, but whilst at times the hinting was sufficient, at some points a little bit of solid evidence would have been appreciated.
  3. Writing; In amongst a lot of pointless anecdotes, there lies a fairly decent murder story- this is mainly where the two stars come from. The first killing happened just short of a third the way through, so naturally this caught my interest. The second murdering occurs half way through and there is a fair amount of suspense built as we know the murder is about to happen but we aren't sure how it will pan out. The whole rest of the book- 270 pages or so - is simply the rest of them fluttering around drunk and high, trying to avoid the police and letting their paranoia and anxiety control their actions and they gradually spiral out of control. I felt there was too much written about pointless scenes and not enough of vital ones. eg, there was a section where one of them was telling Richard how he nearly caught them "so many times" from coming home from the woods, when they hid behind the curtain etc, this should have been written into the story beforehand!!! ie, Richard should have noticed something like "when I went down to the fridge I heard some noises in the hall but no one was there and I returned to bed" etc... this lack of foreshadowing just felt like Tartt wrote the novel as she went with no clue where it was going.
  4. Julian; Richard (and seemingly the others) idolized this man. I did not nor did I understand his great importance, there needed to be more about him to show the reader his greatness. Julian was one character I wanted to read more about, I wanted to know what was so intriguing and why he selected his students so carefully and such, but nope- we weren't privy to an insight into Julian's psyche.
  5. The story; unfortunately the whole plot just fell apart for me. This is deemed as a great murder mystery type novel but that's hardly so. The first telling of the drunken acts and behaviour of the characters were enough, and I did not need to read hundreds of pages of the same thing with different paranoia in a different setting to understand their affliction with substance abuse. Hooray for them being young and daring.

Overall, did not enjoy this book. It probably just wasn't for me and I can recognise the talent of Tartt but it often felt like she was trying to hard to show off her writing skills. The constant forced language use was a turn off; it would have done her no harm to once in a while just write a sentence simply. I think you will either love or hate this and can't recommend it solely to a certain group as I believe it to be an individual preference.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

REVIEW: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin

Rating: ★★

Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Mara Dyer loses her best friend, boyfriend and his sister all in the one night; out late exploring an abandoned building when it all collapses and only Mara escapes alive. Her family uproot and move away to give Mara a fresh start away from all of her tainted memories.

Suffering with PTSD and dealing with hallucinations and nightmares, Mara slowly regains memory of the dreadful night, piece by piece. She also faces the traumas that are associated with starting at a new school; automatically sticking out without a uniform and then the "Queen Bee", Anna, targets her from the beginning and makes life worse for her.

Noah Shaw enters Mara's life and she can't help but fall under his spell. He is more than just a love interest for her however, as she soon realises he has more in common with her than she originally suspected. Mara has the ability to kill people with her mind, and Noah helps her with her journey in discovering her power and dealing with her daily flashbacks and fears.

My Thoughts:
This was a book I had been wanting to read for a good 2 years before I got the chance to. The blurb published doesn't really give much of the story away, but still the mystery suggested really drew me in;

"Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong."

I'll start with the fact that I loved the paranormal element to this novel. Mara was such an intriguing character and her power was a subtle yet distinctive one. She kills with her mind, and in a graphic manner and I loved how serious and detrimental her power was. 

And then there's Noah... woahhhh. I generally roll my eyes at the cocky confident "man-whore" of the novel who is so sure he'll "get the girl" from the beginning. He just has an air about him that is so enticing and definitely is up there in the top 5 book boyfriends. He too has some mind powers which is really cool and I loved how he had a back story that we slowly uncovered. The romance was a lovely, albeit heated, slow-built affair that was gorgeous to read.

There's also a great underlying sense of eeriness throughout the novel. Mara's nightmares cause a chill down the spine and the events towards the end of the book involving Mara's younger brother, really sets in the level of danger throughout. It's a dark story but one that's captivating rather than disturbing. 

It also ended on a major cliffhanger so I will definitely be reading the subsequent novels in this series. 

I spent a good while trying to decide between 4 or 5 stars for this book. Although I loved it a lot, there were some things that I didn't quite connect with. There were some actions from the characters that didn't seem to be in character to how they were portrayed previously. I also felt Jamie was significantly under-developed and would have loved some more building with his character so we could properly connect. Some vital scenes/events in the book weren't depicted in the best manner and I felt I often had to back-track to ensure I understood what was happening or if I was picking up on something suggested that actually wasn't. 

Overall; I definitely recommend this book, definitely to young-adults but I'd say new adults would easily enjoy this. Has an intriguing mix of paranormal with such a mind-blowing culmination and I look forward to the rest of the series.

Friday, 1 August 2014

REVIEW: Diary of a Teenage Fairy Godmother, by Kathleen Baldwin & Andrea Sisco

Rating: ★★★☆

Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Lilliana Skye is not your average teenager. Lilliana is an undercover Fairy Godmother to Jess Harrison, a descendant of Cinderella, and helping Jess is her first mission after graduating from her training. The only problem is that Jess hates Lilliana immediately and wants her gone. Jess is still grieving over the death of her eldest brother, and fears Lilliana has ill intentions with getting involved with her other brother, Jake. There is undeniable chemistry between Lilliana and Jake from the moment they meet, increasing Jess' hatred for Lilliana.

Regardless of Jess not wanting her brother and Lilliana to be together, there are strict laws forbidding the union of a human and a fairy. Despite Lilliana's best efforts, Jake, Jess and her friends are all thrown into the midst of the magic world and face a magical battle and things they never thought possible. 

My Thoughts:
I honestly was on the fence about giving this 3 or 4 stars but in the end had to settle on 3. 


  1. Lilliana is such a complex character and reading about her adapting to fit in was entertaining and endearing.
  2. The modern twist to fairy-tales was executed well with tying this in to the Cinderella tale beautifully and realistically too.
  3. I loved Jess, even though she was so full of anger at the start, her determination was admirable and her heart was definitely in the right place. She also redeems herself massively in the latter half as she shows her true nature. 
  4. The format of this book was quite cute; I loved the little Directives from The Fairy Godmother Training Manual that split up every few chapters. 


  1. The second half may as well have been a different novel as it was so different to the beginning; even though Jess etc didn't really believe in magic, there seemed to be such a sudden shift to the magical world and the end just picked up too much pace as we were thrown abruptly into an action-packed magical battle! 
  2. I didn't find the humans' responses and reactions to finding out the truth about Lilliana all too believable. Jess was the only one who showed any skepticism and they all just took it in their stride as they went off with Lilliana and were with Naneth. 


I really wanted to give this book 4 stars; it really had a great story-line and wonderful characters. The modern fairy-tale genre was written in a lovely style and the general story-line held a lot of potential and was enjoyable. 
However I can't ignore the confusion I felt at the end, it just felt like the book completely changed focus and what I thought was the main story-line, was in fact just a build up to the "real" one. 

This is why I'm only giving it 3 stars but in regards to characters, the writing, format etc, it was all done beautifully. 

I would still recommend this book to any one who loves fairy-tales or modern fantasy books. I think the blurb on this novel should be edited to give a little more notice on what the book is mainly about however.