Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Bitter EndWhen Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole — a handsome, funny, sports star who adores her — she can’t believe she’s finally found her soul mate . . . someone who truly loves and understands her. At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy? As the months pass, though, Alex can no longer ignore Cole’s small put-downs, pinches, or increasingly violent threats. As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose “love” she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose — between her “true love” and herself. (From Amazon.ca)

This is one of the few contemporary YA books I’ve read and really enjoyed. (Usually I go into Paranormal or Fantasy). But the subject matter of this book got me curious as to how they address them for Teen readers. It really tackles the subject well. Alex is a great character, and thought she found everything she wanted in Cole, and I nearly fell for it too, he was very well done and his charming manipulative manner was something any girl could possibly fall for. It wasn’t until later when the reader does see his darker more violent side, that all of sudden he becomes so ugly and horrible that the reader wonders what was so great about him in the first place.

I felt for Alex, although I didn’t take too kindly how she just managed to drop her friends just like that for Cole – then again Cole sometimes did not give her much of a choice and at certain times, are we not guilty of doing that at least once in our lifetime once a boy/girlfriend moves into our lives? so in that sense, Alex is made into a very realistic character.

There were moments where you were just frustrated with Alex for still being with Cole – especially after such horrible treatment but you also sympathize with her, the isolation and helplessness can certainly be felt throughout the novel. I was very surprised at Alex’s sister. I didn’t like her at first but when she gave Alex a significant present it made do a complete turn around and I thought differently about her.

The plot was very well written. It had a nice pace and timing. All the characters were also well done which made this book a great reading experience. There was only one thing that did not sit well with me and that was the lack of history behind Alex’s mom. Something bad happened, and she just left…ok…but there has to be more than that right? there really was not much to this part of the story and I wonder if it really was all necessary to begin with?

It’s a hard subject to write about, but this book was well done and it’s worth reading. You do eventually support Alex with her decision and hope for the best for her on her road to healing and recovery. The ending is somewhat open ended but it was good enough to leave it the way it was. I recommend this for all YA readers, not just for a good read, but also to become aware of this sensitive subject and possibly help others they might know who might be going through what Alex did.

I give it a 10/10

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Dark Eden by Patrick Carman

Dark EdenFifteen-year-old Will Besting is sent by his doctor to Fort Eden, an institution meant to help patients suffering from crippling phobias. Once there, Will and six other teenagers take turns in mysterious fear chambers and confront their worst nightmares—with the help of the group facilitator, Rainsford, an enigmatic guide. When the patients emerge from the chamber, they feel emboldened by the previous night’s experiences. But each person soon discovers strange, unexplained aches and pains. . . . What is really happening to the seven teens trapped in this dark Eden? (from Amazon.ca)

I liked this book! ohhhh the twists. One after another it just came at you. The idea of the plot is interesting by itself. A bunch of teens at an institution trying to deal with their own fears. Some of their fears were horrifying and made you want to cringe when you read through them. I liked how the book was divided up into their own fears (with the appropriate pictures to accompany it).

The plot was good, the twists were appropriately placed and the overall mood of the story was dark and suitable. The characters were all right, I can’t really say they were likable. It was more like they were just there for your reading pleasure. I liked the explanation and the back story as to why this institution was created. I wasn’t expecting that AT ALL. It’s creative, and different and puts an interesting spin on this story. The ending leaves you wondering what’s going to happen but it keeps you curious and wanting more.

The second book is out already and I’m going to grab it. The ending of Dark Eden was good enough to get me curious as to what was going to happen next. YA readers would enjoy this one. Especially fans who want a thriller.

I give it an 8.5 out of 10

Spartacus by Ben Kane

SpartacusBen Kane’s brilliant novel begins in the Thracian village to which Spartacus has returned, after escaping from life as an auxiliary in the Roman army. But here he quickly falls foul of his overlord, the Thracian king, who has set his heart on Dionysian priestess, Ariadne — later to become wife of Spartacus. Betrayed again to the Romans by his jealous king, Spartacus — and with him Ariadne — are taken in captivity to the school of gladiators at Capua. It is here — against the unbelievable brutality of gladiatorial life — that Spartacus and Crixus the Gaul plan the audacious overthrow of their Roman masters, escaping to Vesuvius, where they recruit and train a huge slave army — an army which will keep the might of Rome at bay for two years and create one of the most extraordinary legends in history. Spartacus: The Gladiator takes the story up to the moment when the slave army has inflicted its first great defeat on Rome. (From Amazon.ca)

Curses to my old age, I wanted to keep reading but my eyes just couldn’t stay open. That’s how good it was. It was filled with action, a bit of love on the side, but well written that I now have to go look for other books by Ben Kane to keep reading them. They’re just THAT good.

Spartacus was good, and well written, the plot was well done and the action scenes were fun to read, and filled with blood that you’d expect in a novel such as this (not as gory as the TV show, thankfully.) Characters are also well done here. Although I’m biased towards Crixus. That’s because I’ve watched the show before jumping this this book (both are not related, and have nothing to do with each other!) and I hated him from the start, so that polluted my opinion of the Crixus in the book. Although I’d have to say, he’s still not likable and extremely abrasive as you’d expect.

I like the relationship between Ariadne and Spartacus. Ariadne was like the strong, but silent supporter of Spartacus and I liked the role she played (snake as a secret weapon??? that’s just awesome!) in the novel. She was like the other half of Spartacus and they both fit well together. Spartacus himself was also fun to read, and with his personality done in the book it’s no wonder others were willing to follow him. He had all the qualities to become a leader of an uprising. The villains in the book were also well done and so hateful you feel like jumping in and throttling them. Ariadne though, had a great way of fighting back at one of them which I enjoyed reading immensely.

The historical aspect of the book was pretty good, although I’m not quite familiar with how accurate it is. The author’s note at the end was very informative and helped. There’s even a glossary at the back, and that helped as well to make the reading more easier to read (plus, you get to learn something new as a bonus).

I’m definitely going to read other books by Ben Kane. I’ve read other historical fiction by male authors and he’s up there with Bernard Cornwell in my opinion. Definitely worth a pick up and read through!

I give it a 10 out of 10.

Thank you Virtual Author Book Tours for letting me host this book tour!