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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 8 April 2012
I'd been buying books for my new kindle and this one was repeatedly recommended. At first I was a bit put off, thinking the title sounded a bit too much like a twisted romance novel for me but then, after seeing it recommended a good eight or nine times, I caved in and bought it. Oh. My. GOD! I am so pleased I did. I literally sat and read the whole thing in a matter of hours. Complete and utter page-turner. I couldn't get enough of it and loved the ending (it caught me completely off guard!). I don't often go for books I haven't heard of or authors I don't know any work by, but this truly is a fantastic book and you will not be disappointed. The characters were realistic, the emotions were raw and I found myself tearing up multiple times during the end of the book. I honestly cannot recommend enough. You need to read this book!!!
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It's hard to know where to start when it comes to reviewing Beautiful Disaster. This is the kind of book that readers have either loved or hated and I have to admit to enjoying every minute of it. If you want to read about a perfect and healthy relationship then this isn't going to be the book for you but if you like your stories with a lot of angst between two dysfunctional people then you'll be completely hooked. Whether you end up loving or hating it you are pretty much guaranteed to have a strong reaction to this novel and if you ask me that is the most important thing I look for when I'm reading a book. I want to have characters I connect with and care about - even if I don't agree with the decisions they make or their actions.

Abby has moved across the country with her best friend America wanting to start a new life where nobody knows about her past. She is determined to be the good girl, the one who works hard, finishes her homework and doesn't spend her time going out partying. The last thing she expects or wants is to attract the attention of Travis - the campus bad boy, king of one night stands and boy every girl wants to be with. But with America dating Travis's best friend Shepley they are thrown together socially. Abby has no intention of being another notch on Travis's bed post and is determined to remain immune to his charms but Travis isn't used to being turned down. The very fact that Abby tries to resist him makes him want her even more and when a bet ends up forcing them to spend more and more time together sparks are bound to fly.

I don't want to say too much about the story line because this is a very character driven novel, in fact until towards the end of the book the focus is very much on the developing friendship between Travis and Abby. Do you remember the intensity of your first relationship? When you couldn't stand to be apart for even a minute and everything was so new and exciting? Jamie McGuire has captured that feeling perfectly in Beautiful Disaster, thankfully my first relationship wasn't quite as obsessive as this one but it was just as intense!

You can probably guess from the title that things aren't all plain sailing and at times watching their interactions is almost painful. They both have issues from their pasts and they both behave in inappropriate ways that cause each other pain. I'm never going to say that I agree with some of the things Travis does - he is controlling and has issues with a violent temper (I will point out that he never raises a hand to Abby in case that is something you're worried about) - but I also felt that Abby knew exactly how to push his buttons and at times was trying to provoke a strong reaction in him. That doesn't make his reaction right but I don't think her behaviour was any better. I found myself just as irritated with the way she constantly played Travis and Parker off against each other as I was with the way Travis reacted to it.

When their relationship works it really is wonderful to watch but when things go wrong you'll find yourself unable to look away from the horror of it. In a lot of ways Beautiful Disaster works as a "how not to have a successful relationship" guide because I certainly wouldn't want to encourage anyone to emulate or accept behaviour like either Travis's or Abby's but that doesn't make it any less engaging to read about them. I think most of us are capable of separating reality and fantasy and I have to confess I had fallen for Travis in spite of his issues by the end of the book. I think this quote from one of their friends (I think it was Shep but I didn't make a note of who said it) sums up their relationship perfectly:

"You're a godd*mn tornado! When you're happy, it's love and peace and butterflies. When you're pissed, you take the whole f*****g world down with you!"

Beautiful Disaster is an addictive read, it is a story that you will obsess over with complex and flawed characters who you will love and hate with equal intensity. It's been a while since I had such a strong connection to characters in this age range and I can't tell you how excited I am to read the sequel when it releases next year. Walking Disaster will be the same story but told from Travis's point of view (although it will also include extra scenes) and I can't wait to get inside his head and understand exactly what he was thinking during the major events!
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on 12 April 2013
It’s taken me a while to get put ‘fingers to laptop’ (somehow doesn’t sound as good as ‘pen to paper’ does it?) on this book, partly because I’ve found it difficult to separate my thoughts on the story in itself from the split reaction Beautiful Disaster has had among other reviewers (very few people give it a middle-of-the-road rating - it’s a love it or hate it book it would seem).

Firstly – the story – the characters are certainly YA, although I would honestly characterise them as ‘older YA’ – they are not 19 year-olds in the Bella Swan mould, but pretty ‘real’ from a drinking, partying, first-time-away-from-home, frequently reckless side of things. This is why the synopsis features a clear indication of suitable audience (it did when I purchased for Kindle at least).

Abby and Travis are certainly not perfect individuals – and at times border on having some serious personal flaws – however, (aside from being a fighter for money [Travis] and poker player supremo [Abby]) they are reasonably realistic in their behaviour: they behave quite randomly in their relationship, antagonising each other one minute, then in perfect bliss and harmony the next. I certainly saw a number of similar ‘car crash’ couples like this during my late teens and early twenties, who would veer from one end of the spectrum to another with seemingly endless frequency. Some people will never experience this, or will do it to a lesser degree, then ‘grow out of it’. There are others still who will remain in couplings like these where volatility appear to be the basis of attraction and even the relationship itself.

Abby and Travis quite often lack self-awareness and this drives many of their misunderstandings and subsequent conflicts. But this for me, felt realistic. When you’re really learning about yourself for the first time and what it is like to be away from family influences and your past you do some weird things – that’s because it’s all new. You decide something because it seems like the best thing to do – maybe you think that’s how ‘grown-ups’ behave, or you saw it on TV and want to emulate that behaviour in your own life as you begin to understand where your own morals lie. You certainly get lots of things wrong, but that is the whole point – it’s a time to make mistakes and the right choices, but there’ll always be a mixture of the two.

So for a book rating I’d say 3.5/5 – I enjoyed reading it, got through it quickly and I engaged with the characters. Overall – the book flows well, the dialogue is quick and the dramatic episodes are fun. As a YA romance/coming of age book it works. Yes there are some spelling issues (latter half of the book) but you can see for the majority of readers that doesn’t bother them. The plot is a rollercoaster ride with Abby and Travis veering from one experience to another as they work out who they are and what they want – I liked the uni life and parties the best. The Vegas episode was fine, but it didn’t especially add to the story for me, but I can also see why it was there. Travis and Abby are ‘big’ characters and so you get some spectacular fireworks around them – which you’ll know from other reviews is probably one of the most divisive features for reviewers.
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on 16 April 2012
I absolutely loved Beautiful Disaster - for me, it was one of those books that you can't put down, but you also don't want to read too quickly because you can't bear for it to be over. Because of this, I started reading it over, as soon as I finished the book the first time!

I noticed from Jamie McGuire's website that she has plans to write the story from Travis' perspective and I can't wait for this to be released. I think I fell in love with him just a little bit reading this story.

I adore books that have, at their heart, a passionate love story where you feel the characters' attraction, obsession, joy and pain as their relationship develops and this book delivered it in spades.
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on 3 January 2016
Okay, a couple of people have mentioned the disturbing stalker-like behaviour of Travis, the male lead in this story and for the most part, I would agree. Although, I would say he was more obsessed by Abby, not stalking her exactly. I was attracted to this book by the promise of a turbulent and angst-y relationship - which was delivered. However, I just didn't enjoy either the writing for the most part, or ultimately, the story itself.

For me, it was Abby's relentless, submissive attitude and Travis's controlling one that killed it. There was hardly a scene in which they were together that he didn't pick her up - I mean, physically lift her from her feet and place her down somewhere else...like a doll, a doll he owned.... You see where I'm going with this? At no point did she think to say, 'Er, I have legs my friend. I am quite capable of independent movement. There is no need for you to facilitate my passage from A to B with your arms." Or words to that effect.

And what's with the slut-shaming? Travis is a rampant, copulating beast. His ability to obtain multiple women with just a flex of a bicep is a widely celebrated talent. He is revered and envied for this gift, while the women who participate in the act along with him are referred to by the other characters as bimbos, imbeciles or even more overtly, as actual sluts. At one point, Abby chastises him for his callousness at telling a one-night-stand not to bother leaving him her number and asks him how he would feel about his future daughter being treated in the same way. He responds by telling her that any daughter of his would not drop her underwear for someone she hardly knew, (which, of course, is the exact behaviour exhibited by Travis on a regular basis). Abby ponders this gem of wisdom and concludes that he is right....women should not be afforded the same freedoms given to men and should, indeed, keep their legs firmly crossed if they want to maintain any chance of being regarded as worthwhile human beings, by both males and other females.

Lastly, Travis's temper and the way he expresses it. He never hurts Abby. He does, however, physically restrain her. He growls at and punches men who try to talk to her. He expresses his dislike of any outfits he feels are too revealing and she is forced to ask his permission to continue to wear them. If events deviate from Travis's expectations he immediately gets steaming drunk and smashes up any object or person that crosses his path. Abby is never scared of him, as such, but she has to manipulate situations in order to "handle" him and avoid an explosive response, never once suggesting he seeks help for his anger issues. (I must also point out that there are multiple occasions where a male is struck by a female - this is also not acceptable behaviour and I certainly do not condone it.)

I have given 2 stars rather than one, because there is actually some good dialogue in amongst the typos, missing words, repetitive prose and copy-editing errors, (sorry, did I not mention that earlier?). Some of the lines just sparkled with a clever wit and helped to carry the rest of the less lustrous text.

To conclude, this book is probably great for readers aged between about 12 to 15 who are as yet, unable to picture their future partners as anything other than a sort of parent-figure, who they expect will act as both their decision-maker and disciplinarian. To have chosen this, as an actual grown-up - well - I really should have known better.

I shall not be purchasing anything else written by this author.
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on 18 October 2015
What can I say about Beautiful Disaster that hasn't already been said, this book is like marmite, you will either love it or hate it. I loved it. First and foremost you must remember that this is a young adult/coming of age story and like all stories, some of the scenarios must be taken with pinch of salt. Was the story of Travis and Abby a little far fetched? possibly, was Travis a little crazy and stalker like, absolutely. But that's why we love him, because despite some of his actions his heart was always in the right place...always for his Pidge. To be honest I can't stand reading about heros that are too polished and refined. I want to read about mishaps and mistakes because that's what makes us connect with the characters. It wouldn't be fun reading a romance novel where everyone is sensible and gets together too easily. I loved the romance story between these two, and refreshing to read that they both have their darker pasts (and no body was abused!!!), that bring them together. As an older reader I do enjoy a young love story. I also read romance stories for my own age group and I can say that they can be rather dull sometimes. I would highly recommend this story.
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on 5 June 2012
When I read the blurb for this I must admit I didn't think it was for me. Good girl meets bad boy at University blah blah so I was thinking it must be a young adult book about frat boys. But then I saw the warning "For Mature Readers" and this intrigued me. It was a cheap download and had also had some good recommendations so I thought "why not?". Oh boy am I glad I did! I could not put this down - I was hooked from the first paragraph to the last word. It was what I like to call one of my "flip flop" books. You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you know something fantastic is happening. Abby (Pidgeon) and Travis were just so believable, enthralling and raw! It was wonderfully written and takes you on the roller coaster ride of what is their relationship. It also kept you guessing and no way could you predict what was going to happen next. In fact at certain points in the book I just didn't want to read next as I kept thinking something bad is going to happen, it's going to leave me heartbroken. I was not disappointed with this book at any point and shall never again judge a book by it's blurb. Absolutely fabulous. One of my all time top reads. I want more Ms McGuire!
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on 28 December 2013
Inexplicably, this book has a 4.5 star average. That's higher than any of the Fifty Shades of Grey books that it's compared to. This was a 99p special offer, which I downloaded without expectations of literary greatness but because I did enjoy the Fifty Shades trilogy.

Beautiful Disaster wasn't so bad that I had to stop reading it. (I hate leaving books unfinished, but I do from time to time, when I really can't get into one.) It was a bit like terrible, trashy TV that has you cringing but from which you can't make yourself look away... But that doesn't make it good.

The story revolves around Abby (supposedly a good girl just arrived at college) and Travis (supposedly an all-round bad boy) and their `beautiful disaster' of a relationship. The trouble is, nothing really hangs together. The blurb tells us Abby is a good girl, something which I think is meant to be reinforced by her wearing a cardigan when we first meet her, but there's nothing else to suggest this. Her background is referred to loosely and vaguely, and when it's eventually explained it feels unconvincing and weak. Travis is a champion fighter, star student, and girl-magnet: not the most realistic character. Even less realistic is his immediate willingness to change for Abby and their equally immediate pull to one another. In Fifty Shades of Grey, on which Jamie McGuire has fairly obviously based Beautiful Disaster, everything is a bit more nuanced and drawn out. This is more equivalent to the insta-love that Twilight is perhaps guilty of, but without the supernatural to fall back on as an explanation.

Not only are the foundations of their relationship unrealistic, but so is the way it pans out. Abby and Travis spend months in some kind of ridiculous dance of misunderstandings and miscommunications, some of which seem so unlikely they must be willful. I think it's meant to be obsessive and intense, but really it's unbelievable and infuriating. Equally unbelievable is the degree to which other people (especially Abby's friend America and Travis' cousin Shepley) care about this car crash of a relationship.

Where there is more similarity with Fifty Shades of Grey - which is not perfect but does spin a compelling story - is in the weakness of the writing itself. While E.L. James overuses phrases such as `oh my', Jamie McGuire's preferred cliché is people `softening' - it feels like every other paragraph sees Travis' eyes softening, his face softening, his expression softening. What does this even mean? The other thing that really grated on me throughout is the ridiculous nickname Travis gives Abby: Pigeon (or Pidge). This comes from nowhere, means nothing, and sticks without anyone questioning it or pointing out its stupidity.

For all of this, I did keep reading - and it's actually a really long book. I wasn't grabbing every spare minute to read it, as I do with better books, but I didn't give up on it. I'm not entirely sure why, but that comparison with car-crash reality TV is the best one I can come up with. I think I kept hoping that there'd be some revelation to make everything make sense. Sadly, there was not. Although apparently there is a spin-off novella (I won't share the title as it'll give away something about Beautiful Disaster) and Walking Disaster, a money-spinning version of the original book told from Travis' perspective.

Overall, Beautiful Disaster feels rushed and ill thought through. Its biggest failing is a pretty crucial one: there is nothing to the story apart from their relationship, and their relationship is not believable. It takes skill to make you believe two people are destined to be together despite appearances and circumstances, that they can be drawn to each other from the first look. For me, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of the best examples of this. And, though they may not be great literature, Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey do achieve it. Sadly, Jamie McGuire and Beautiful Disaster don't.
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on 30 November 2013
Well, after looking at this title on Goodreads, I discovered it is quite controversial. All I can say is that I loved it and Walking Disaster. Yes, it has some dark bits to it. However, I thought it was really well written and engrossing with complicated we'll fleshed out characters.
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on 21 November 2012
i was recommended this as something to read after 50 shades and twilight (both of which i love for their love stories not the TMI sex scenes of 50 - if that's what your looking for i wouldn't say this book is particularly raunchy) and have to say I loved this story more than either of them! the story is far more believable and realistic, all the characters are great and really likable - Abby is such a better heroine than Bella or Ana, no sappy "oh but why would he ever love me when I'm just a normal gal" rubbish and she had a decent close female friendship which was refreshing! If you want an easy to read story about a couple falling madly in love and all the glitches along the way, then look no further! A great read!
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