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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 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 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 14 August 2012
Boy, what a story.
Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She is 19 years old and in her first year at Eastern University with her friend America, determined to leave her past behind her and create a promising and peaceful future for herself. The last thing she needs in her life is someone like Travis Maddox.
Travis is the ultimate bad-boy. Covered in tattoos, he makes money in a floating fight ring while having numerous one-night stands with all sorts of girls who can't seem to get enough of him.
No, if Abby is going to make her dream of a peaceful life come true, she wants to stay well clear of this fighting machine.
But, when Abby goes to see Travis fight something between the two young people connects. And Abby trying to keep her distance only seems to increase Travis' interest in her.
Because he is determined to get what he apparently can't have, Travis proposes a bet. He claims that he always allows his opponents to hit him once before finishing the fight and that he can make it through his next fight without being hit at all. If he does take a punch he must remain abstinent for a month, but if he exits the ring untouched, Abby must spend a month with him.
Unable to resist, Abby accepts the bet and soon finds herself moving in with Travis. And so starts an affair that is as passionate as it is dysfunctional, a relationship that Abby knows can't have a future. Or can it...?

I'm not entirely sure what to say about this book.
It is a love story but a very disturbing one. We are reading about two people who should never be or stay together. Two young persons, both dysfunctional in their own way and while they appear to feel happy when they are together, their relationship is one of co-dependency. This could, in theory, be a very interesting premise for a story, especially if it was followed by both characters overcoming their issues because they are together. But, that doesn't appear to be the case in this story. At no point while reading this book did I get to feeling comfortable about this relationship or where it might lead. In fact, my discomfort grew even while the story headed for what I guess is supposed to be a happy ending.
I'm talking about violence, obsessive behaviour, more violence and lots of issues that never got resolved.
When I finished the book I couldn't help feeling that if the author were to ever write a sequel about these characters it would be a horror story filled with pain and despair.

Having said all that, I couldn't put the book down. I guess it was a bit like watching a car-wreck, I just couldn't look away.
The writing is smooth, the dialogue sparkles and the story, while at times horrific, is compelling.
I've seen other reviews of this book and it seems that for most readers this is a book that they either love or hate. As my rating shows, it wasn't either of those for me. I found this an easy read, but one that left me feeling slightly uncomfortable by the time I finished the story.
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on 16 July 2013
I literally can't fault this book. I advise any hopeless romantic to give it a read, I'm pretty certain you'll fall in love with Travis Maddox like I did. I couldn't put the book down, as soon as it came in the post I started to read it and couldn't stop. I finished it within 2 days and then began to re-read it before walking disaster came!! Honestly the best book I've ever read. Can't wait to read it again :)
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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 2 October 2012
I have read some reviews that compare this book with FSOG and I just don't see the resemblance.

This book has no erotica or soft porn and is simply a beautiful love story. There does not seem to be any kissing beyond the face, neck and upper limbs and sex is vanilla style and not described in detail. So, if you are looking to have your socks blown off with descriptive sex scenes, you are going to be mightily disappointed. Having said that, I loved the story and couldn't get enough of Travis who was adorable. He was the 'Leader of the Pack' with his friends and colleagues; he treated most girls like bitches on heat; he could be a Rottweiler when he or his was threatened but for the most part he was an adorable Labrador puppy who wanted to make Abigail (Pigeon) happy.

At times, I couldn't believe what Abi was putting Travis through. She was capricious and more than once I wanted to give her a good slap and tell her to sort herself out. However, when I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that in real life no-one acts reasonably all the time, so I forgave her for making Travis suffer.

A very easy and enjoyable read but be warned, once you start reading you won't be able to put it down because you will be desparate to know what happens next. Definitely recommended.
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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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