Dual Reviews NA Edition - Paradise City & What If

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

24922131Paradise City by C.J. Duggan
Series: Paradise #1
Released: 28th April 2015
Published by: Hachette Australia
Genre: NA Contemporary
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 363
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
There's bound to be trouble in Paradise . . .

 When her parents decide a change will be good for her, seventeen-year-old Lexie Atkinson never expected they'd send her all the way to Paradise City. Coming from a predictable life of home schooling on a rural Australian property, she's sure that Paradise will be amazing. But when she's thrust into a public school without a friendly face in sight, and forced to share a room with her insipid, hateful cousin Amanda, Lexie's not so sure. Hanging out with the self-proclaimed beach bums of the city, sneaking out, late night parties and parking with boys are all things Lexie's never experienced, but all that's about to change. It's new, terrifying . . . and exciting.

But when she meets Luke Ballantine, exciting doesn't even come close to describing her new life. Trouble with a capital T, Luke is impulsive, charming and answers to no one. The resident bad-boy leader of the group, he's sexier than any boy Lexie has ever known. Amidst the stolen moments of knowing looks and heated touches, Lexie can't help but wonder if Luke is going to be good for her . . . or very, very bad?
Thank you to Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Paradise City is the first book I've read by C.J. Duggan, and a first in my experiences reading Aussie NA fiction. While it did hold some of the stereotypical tropes of the genre, I can honestly say that it was nonetheless an addictive read. It would definitely be perfect for summer reading on the beach, and for a book which takes relationship drama, some steamy romance and witty banter along the way - I'm definitely willing to check out more of this author's work and her other series. 

Lexie was a straight-A, good girl who moved in with her cousin Amanda and her family to Paradise City, only to run into all the teen drama and of course...the boys. Coming from a country town in Red Hill, there certainly wasn't much of that - and once she meets Luke Ballantine ( right on cue as the bad boy), she certainly changes her tune.

Suddenly trying to fit in with the cool crowd became important to Lexie, as well as perhaps getting some attention from a certain someone. But despite the seeming melodrama, there was more to this story and Lexie was at times a funny character with her awkwardness at times and taboos. She also cared about her new friend and tried to make an effort to stay out of trouble...though with Ballantine that of course wasn't easy. The romance was charged with tension, and there were some twists which I didn't see coming which made the whole thing all the more interesting.


After that cliffhanger, I do want to know what will happen next in this series. C.J. Duggan is an author on my watchlist now, and not only do I want to see more from Lexie and Luke - but her other books too. It's great to see Australian authors tackling this genre and making a success of it!

What If by Rebecca Donovan
Released: 22nd January 2015
Published by: Penguin
Genre: NA Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 384
My Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
What if you had a second chance to meet someone for the first time? Cal Logan is shocked to see Nicole Bentley sitting across from him at a coffee shop thousands of miles from their hometown. After all, no one has seen or heard from her since they graduated over a year ago. Except this girl isn't Nicole.

 She looks exactly like Cal's shy childhood crush, but her name is Nyelle Preston and she has no idea who he is. This girl is impulsive and daring, her passion for life infectious. The complete opposite of Nicole. Cal finds himself utterly fascinated and falling hard. But Nyelle is also extremely secretive. And the closer he comes to finding out what she's hiding, the less he wants to know. 

When the secrets from the past and present collide, one thing becomes clear: Nothing is what it seems.
Thank you to Penguin Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

What If is a NA novel which did have some some promise, though in this case it was  a problem of not being able to establish a genuine connection with the characters or the plot. Basically, I'm going to have to sit on the fence - while I enjoyed to an extent the mystery surrounding a possible case of mistaken identity, on the whole I can't say that this is my favourite NA novel.

In short, none of the characters are ones which I found all that likable (hence the connection issue). Cal didn't really have much substance and Nyelle was definitely a 'free spirit', but it seems a twisted one at that. I'm usually all for books which explore the complexities of these fascinating characters, but in this case they just weren't developed enough for me and the storyline took some weird turns which left me questioning why I was even persevering. There is a backstory though with the alternating past and present chapters, though in the beginning I couldn't see where their relevance fit in.


In all, What If was unfortunately a disappointment. I had been looking forward to a NA mystery with depth, but was personally left with a story that fell flat. However, though this wasn't necessarily my cup of tea, you don't know until you try right?


  1. That's too bad about What If- I've heard a lot of good things about Rebecca Donovan. But at least Paradise City was good! I've read a couple of books where the ending makes the story. Cliffhangers are so frustrating, aren't they?

    1. It is a shame - I guess it was a case of 'it's not you, it's me'. Paradise City was surprisingly good, hope you enjoy it :)

  2. Glad to hear you ended up enjoying Paradise City, I wasn't a big fan of that one. Too bad the characters weren't too likable in What If as well, especially if it promised an engaging mystery. Lovely reviews Genie!

    1. I can see where people may have found flaws with it, but overall I was glad to see some Aussie NA out there! Thanks for stopping by Jeann :)

  3. All I've heard about lately is Paradise City! There's so much hype around it that after reading your positive review, I've added it onto my Goodreads shelf! I'm so excited for it, especially since I always need a new NA read! :) Cliffhangers? YES. Sadly What If wasn't too likeable as you hoped, the cover is gorgeous! (I probably never would've had the patience to keep reading if I didn't like the plot or characters!) Lovely reviews!

    Michelle @ A Thousand Lives Lived! (New follower!) :D

    1. There definitely is! I hope you like it Michelle, and that cliffhanger will definitely leave you wanting more :) Thanks for following as well <3


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