Book Review: London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton

Synopsis: Alex is an outsider —a geeky fangirl—with dreams of becoming a playwright in a city she’s loved from afar yet never visited: London. After a devastating betrayal she heads to England for a new start in a place she feels like she’ll belong. Except there is no way to escape the demons of her past, the broken relationships, the panic attacks, and a jealous rival determined to destroy her new life. Alex begins to question everything from her life-long dream to her new friends to whether London is where she truly belongs.

Setting: There is no doubt this novel is set primarily in London. This jolly ol’ city is so big that, despite living there for two years, I did not see some of the things Alex does or explored all the same streets. At times I was able to picture what Alex is seeing perfectly based on the description and because I had been there myself.

Writing Style: It would be hard to set a story in London without Britishisms popping out, but anything a non-Brit may not know is clearly explained so the reader can understand what is being talked about. My only difficulty is when someone would be talking the next paragraph starts with an action beat and that same person would continue talking. This structure is confusing as normally a new paragraph is a new speaker. I had a reread a few conversations to figure out who was saying what.

POV: This novel is written in third person, so we get more than one perspective on what is happening. However, this sometimes happens in the middle of a scene that started with the main character, goes to someone else, and then back again.

Plot: To escape a less than satisfactory life, Alex moves to London in attempt to follow her dreams. If this hadn’t been so similar to my own experience a little over two years ago when I travelled for the first time in my life to England, I’d think it a bit improbable. While there are some “too good to be true moments” –particularly in comparison to my own tri–  it is the ending we all want for Alex.

Character Development: Some other reviews called Alex weak because she has panic attacks from anxiety. I will admit a couple of times I was giving a mental “Really?!”, but I found Alex to be quite realistic. Despite how brave I am alone in my room with a book, had I been in the same situations I would likely react in a similar manner. I don’t have an anxiety disorder nor am I prone to panic attacks, but I saw a lot of myself in Alex and completely identified with her experience… I have endured pretty similar situations as she does during my two years of living in London.

Romance: Let’s just say I would snap Mark up in a second, as I’m a sucker for Irishmen. Add in a bit of Harry, mix well, and you’ve got the perfect man! Both these men are great boyfriends with very different relationships. Alex’s relationship with Mark started slow and kept stalling because of Alex’s insecurity, Mark’s workaholic ways, and both having an inability to step up. However they finally overcome the obstacles to be adorable. All I can say is that I need to get a job in theatre if that’s where guys like these are hanging out!

Quote: “Maybe the best inspirational quote is actually your own.”

Verdict: There are some flaws in the writing, but what debut novel doesn’t have some? Overall this is a great book! Alex is a strong female character despite her imperfections, the boys are delish, and the story is real. I identified strongly with Alex after having travelled myself, but anyone who hasn’t travelled can know what it’s like to move overseas just by reading this novel. I am really looking forward to Jacquelyn’s next book!



Book Review: Red Girl, Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted


Synopsis: Katie’s father is a Republican, Drew’s mother is a Democrat, and both are running for President. Their sixteen-year-olds shouldn’t get a long, but when the teenagers are thrown together on a talk show sparks fly of a different kind. With the entire nation watching and taking sides in their parents’ fight, the two teens wonder how anyone can fall in love with the one person you’re supposed to hate…

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Book Review: Hana by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis:  The summer before they’re supposed to be cured of the ability to love, best friends Lena and Hana begin to drift apart. While Lena shies away from underground music and parties with boys, Hana jumps at her last chance to experience the forbidden. For her, the summer is full of wild music, dancing—and even her first kiss. But on the surface, Hana must be a model of perfect behavior. She meets her approved match, Fred Hargrove, and glimpses the safe, comfortable life she’ll have with him once they marry. As the date for her cure draws ever closer, Hana desperately misses Lena, wonders how it feels to truly be in love, and is simultaneously terrified of rebelling and of falling into line.

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Book Review: Annabel by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis: Lena’s mother, Annabel, has always been a mystery—a ghost in Lena’s past. Until now. Lena Halloway’s mother, Annabel, supposedly committed suicide when Lena was only six years old. That’s the lie that Lena grew up believing, but the truth is very different. As a rebellious teenager, Annabel ran away from home and straight into the man she knew she was destined to marry. The world was different then—the regulations not as stringent, the cure only a decade old. Fast forward to the present, and Annabel is consigned to a dirty prison cell, where she nurtures her hope of escape and scratches one word over and over into the walls: Love

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Book Review: Alex by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis: When Alex sacrificed himself to save Lena, he thought he was committing himself to certain death, but what he got was almost worse. Imprisoned and tortured by the guards, his mind forces him to relive a past he would rather forget. But in the dark he grows stronger. Both hopeful and terrified, he fights to find his way back to her and the love he still clings to.

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Book Review: Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

20170423_094047-1-1.jpgSynopsis: Bolshoi ballerina Nina Revskaya was a member of Stalin’s cultural elite until betrayal triggered her ingenious escape to the West. Decades later she has decided to auction her famed jewelry collection – including the rare set of amber a Boston professor and an auction house associate believe may hold the key to a long-kept secret. The mystery reaches deep: to the cost of making art and trying to live and love under circumstances of enormous repression.

Cover: It is somehow both mysterious and soothing to look at the faded background of a tree against the white background and falling snow. The clothes on the embracing couple look on the old-fashioned side yet the female’s face itself looks more modern, so I’m not entirely sure what era this novel takes place just by looking at it.

Product: There is something about this book that doesn’t physically feel right. I am fairly certain the cover isn’t as thick as usual and the pages lean towards being a bit translucent. This could be due to the publisher using a new supplier or it could be this potential change was necessary in order to bind all 550-some pages (or rather 540 given there are ten leaves missing from my edition).

Format: This novel is divided into three books, each one shorter than the last, and each chapter begins with an auction item blurb (with the exception of what I’m assuming may be another error as there are two in a row for one chapter and none at all for another).

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Book Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis: Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The rebellion has ignited into an all-out revolution, and Lena is at the center of the fight. After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven as Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels. As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

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