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Review: Nightshade!

NightshadeAuthor: Andrea Cremer (2010)

Summary: Calla has always known exactly what her future held.  On her eighteenth birthday, she will marry Ren and together they will be alphas over a new werewolf pack.  They will do the will of their masters, the Keepers, as all Guardians do.  It doesn’t really matter how Calla feels about it, because there’s nothing she can do to change fate.  Right?  And yet Calla finds herself risking everything to save the life of a mysterious hiker, a boy named Shay.  As she gets to know Shay better, Calla realizes that, powerful as she is, the only thing she wants might be beyond her reach.  Can she change her fate after all?

My thoughts:  Oh. My. Gosh.  I just finished reading this book and I literally cannot wait to tell you about it.  I haven’t been this excited about a book in a long time.

Ever since I started reading YA paranormals, way back with Twilight, I’ve been waiting for a book that reverses the roles.  Let’s have a girl be the mysterious and alluring paranormal creature.  Let the human boy be smitten with her even though he’s not sure what he’s getting himself into.  That book has arrived!!  Calla is a fantastic, complex character.  I loved that she was strong in so many areas of her life, and unsure in a few unexpected ones.  Her confusion as she tried to sort out her feelings for Ren and Shay had me completely pulled in.  This is going to be a great book for bad boy lovers and goodie girls alike.  I have to admit I fully hated Ren most of the time, but I know plenty of you are going to fall for him.  He’s really the embodiment of an jerk with a soft center, once you figure out what that center is.
Speaking of being pulled in, this story has “hook” in spades.  On page one, you are thrown right into the action- and it doesn’t let up.  There’s love, lust, family, intrigue, terror, hope, confusion and plenty of things that go bump in the night.  Actually, the action started off so fast that I found myself struggling to catch up a few times.  But I promise you I was never bored.

I loved the way this story melded the paranormal genre with elements of dystopian fiction.  Calla’s growing realization that the rules she’s always accepted might not be there for her own benefit ranks right up there with some of the great YA dystopians.  I was particularly reminded of The Uglies Trilogy and The Giver.  That feeling of “everything is good, everyone knows their place” slowly turns to “nothing is what I thought it was” and I couldn’t quite put my finger on the place in the story where my stomach started twist with dread.  Perfect.

CLIFFHANGER ALERT!  This book is definitely going to leave you wanting more.  I don’t know how I’m supposed to survive until next July for the sequel, Wolfsbane.  This is an absolutely stunning debut from Andrea Cremer.

Final word: (5/5) WOW.  This book knocked my socks off so hard I’m actually still looking for one of them.

Content: Sexuality, violence and disturbing religious references.  Recommended for older teens and adults only. 17+

Review: It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han!

It's Not Summer Without You*This review contains spoilers for those who have not read The Summer I Turned Pretty.Summary: It’s summer again, but everything has changed for Belly.  Her mother’s best friend Suzanne has passed away, and there’s no trip to the beach house to look forward to.  To make matters worse, Belly’s friend Conrad, Suzanne’s son, has gone walkabout and no one can find him.  Belly agrees to help Conrad’s brother, Jeremiah, look for him.
My thoughts: This book almost made me cry.  Han has done an excellent job of portraying the grief of Suzanne’s death, and the way the shockwaves radiate outward through her friends and family.  The emotion is honest and raw, and you can’t help but be drawn in.  The relationship between Belly and her mother is explored in further depth, which I loved.  We also get to find out what exactly happened between Belly and Conrad after that one kiss last summer.  Every relationship and story line from the previous book is expanded on, creating a web of relationships that feels so real you’ll think you know these people.
Once again, we’re doing the time-shift dance.  This time, the shift is between the present summer and the events of the winter leading up to it.  I didn’t mind the time changes in the first book, but I didn’t feel it was as effective here.

One thing that bothered me about this book is that Belly is completely oblivious to the fact that Conrad is a complete and total ass.  Or, worse, she’s aware of it and she keeps going after him over and over again.  The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.  Belly, you’re crazy.  What makes the whole situation worse is that Jeremiah is right there and he’s great.  ARGH!  On the other hand, is there a single girl in this world who hasn’t had a crush on someone who wasn’t worth it at some point in her life?  I can relate, and I think that makes it even more frustrating.

Final word:  (4/5) Even more compelling, though perhaps not as well-written as its predecessor.  I only wish I had the third book in my hands now.

Emily Maternity Lingerie Rocks – Especially with 20% OFF!

Emily Maternity Lingerie

Following one of my previous posts, practical >maternity lingerie available for bigger busted mums-to-be, I came across UK brand, Emily Lingerie and was very excited when the company agreed to let me road test one of their gorgeous bras.

I received the ‘English Garden‘ underwired maternity bra in size 34F. The bra features black satin fabric with a vintage-inspired floral print, delicate lace edging and a pretty bow embellishment to the front centre. The cups are cotton lined for comfort whilst the bra features ’soft’ lightweight underwires and six back fastenings to accommodate your changing shape during pregnancy.

When the bra first arrived I was won over straight away by the design – it looks and feels luxurious and just like ‘real’ lingerie, unlike many of the matronly maternity bras available to bigger breasted pregnant women. The matching French knickers make this a gorgeous, sexy set.

I found the bra extremely comfortable to wear and it was also very supportive. The fit was good and corresponded well to that of my other lingerie, although I found the back size slightly big – not enough to affect the fit of the bra but if you are a borderline back size I would recommend you opt for the smaller size. The cup size was spot on and the bra gave me a nice shape under clothing, although on a purely personal note I would have liked some light foam padding of the cups for an even smoother silhouette under close fitting tops. The underwire was perfectly comfortable and did not rub or dig in at all – it’s difficult to say whether it will remain comfortable as my pregnancy progresses but with the flexibility of the wire and the extra back fastenings I am confident I will be able to adjust the fit for comfort well into the final weeks.

A personal bugbear of mine with maternity bras is the fact that many have high necklines which are visible under scoop or v-neck tops but this bra has a plunging style that in no way restricts the type of clothing you can wear, while the straps are not too wide and also pretty enough to be on show if required. Priced at £33 this bra is by no means cheap but is definitely the best I have come across so far and a real investment piece that will see you through pregnancy and beyond – I know I’ll wear mine again after breastfeeding has finished but before my breasts have returned to their normal size.

The ‘English Garden’ style is one of two underwired maternity bras offered by Emily, and they also have a selection of beautiful soft cup maternity bras in addition to a number of wired and non-wired nursing bras. I will definitely be purchasing additional items from the range, and I was very excited to hear from an insider at Emily that a white version of the ‘Paris’ bra is currently in the making, as is a range of ‘basic’ bras in black, white and nude! And if you fancy adding some of this gorgeous lingerie to your maternity/nursing wardrobe, you’ll be delighted to hear that we have an exclusive 20% discount to offer for MumUnplugged readers – simply enter code MUMMY10 at the Emily checkout to receive your discount!

Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han!

QQqSummary: Isabella (better known as Belly) measures her life in summers.  She spends the entire year looking forward to those magical months spent at her mom’s best friend(Beck)’s beach house.  The best part of the summer is always Conrad and Jeremiah, Beck’s sons.  Belly has had a crush on Conrad for as long as she can remember, and Jeremiah has always been her best friend.  But Belly has a feeling that this summer, her sixteenth, is special, that things are going to change.

My thoughts:  The Summer I Turned Pretty is pretty much exactly what I wanted it to be: a light, fun read with just enough depth to keep the emotional stakes high.

I enjoyed Belly as a character, even though she was a tad whiny.  I LOVE Jeremiah, and I pretty much hate Conrad.  This is essentially a coming of age story, with Belly’s growing up being defined by the change in her relationship with Beck’s boys.  She is no longer happy to be the tormented, tolerated little sister, and she’s trying hard to be seen as a peer.

The story shifts back and forth between the present summer and significant moments from previous summers.  The change in time got a little disorienting occasionally, but I liked the device overall because it really added a lot of depth to the story.

I apologize for the short review today, but what you really need to know is that I liked this book and I’m off to read the sequel.

Final word: (4/5)  Breezy and sun-drenched, this book feels like summer, but nonetheless packs emotional punch.  Fans of Sarah Dessen should enjoy.

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