April 18, 2014

Friday Quickes: Here's Looking at You and You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

The Deal: Anna Alessi was never popular during her high school days: she was fat and a bit of an ugly duckling, but she eventually became a successful History professor, lost some weight and is currently deep in the world of online-dating, even if said world has proven to be disappointing more often than not.  

Still, Anna decides to attend her school's reunion to finally face her erstwhile bullies - who made fun of her because of her weight, her hair and her Italian heritage - and put the past behind her. There is one problem though: no one recognizes the new Anna. 

And then, she keeps running into James, her high school crush whom she holds a little in contempt since he was always in the group of kids who bullied her - not actively, more like he stood around and did nothing most of the time - even if she never fully got over him and seems much nicer these days.

My Thoughts: Here's is Looking at You didn't work so well for me, I have to say. Anna was interesting, but I kind of have a problem with how her life sort of got better after she lost weight and made herself over, something about the way that was presented didn't fully convince me. 

And I was bothered by a few things in the book, like how it handled the fact that Anna was a romance reader, and James' situation with his Ex, and a bunch of little things that sort of added up to me not liking the book.

Now I know I'm a bit alone in that opinion, and that lots of people have liked this book. But I felt like the ugly-duckling story has been done a lot, and I've simply read better versions of it. I felt like Here's Looking at You had nothing new to offer in that regard. 

The Deal: Rachel and Ben were close friends and confidantes during their college years, engaging in many a crazy adventure together... but something happened back then and now it's been ten years since the last time they spoke. 

Now Rachel lives in Manchester and just walked out on her (ex) fiancé and is determined to get on with her life with the support of her friends and her job (she's a court reporter, btw); and just so happens that she runs into Ben for the first time. 

Ben just moved the Manchester, has been married for two years... and is as nice and desirable as he ever was. 

And the moment they see each other, it's like the years never went by and they never grew apart. 

My Thoughts: First off, I liked You Had Me at Hello, it was a very quick-paced story and the chapters were fairly short so I felt like I was reading pretty fast. I liked Rachel from the start, she did something pretty brave in the first few episodes - realizing that, even if she was midway planing her wedding, she didn't like her boyfriend much, anymore - and that made me notice her. 

I, incidentally, also liked Ben a lot, he sounded very attractive on the page and was fairly nice but... well, there is a big and spoilery but here, which I won't mention but it's easy to figure out. 

Over all, I'd say I liked the book but it did take me a bit to get adjusted to it, mostly because I was expecting a romance and this read more like Chick Lit or Woman's Fiction; and I had a few other issues with it, Rachel tends to be passive a lot of the time, there is my big "But", and it was a rather bittersweet most of the time.  

April 17, 2014

Speed Date: Backward Compatible by Sarah Daltry and Pete Clark

The Plot (courtesy of GoodReads):
Not too long ago, in a town that, depending on your current location, is either not super far or actually quite close... (insert Star Wars theme music here...)
It is a time of chaotic hormones.

Two nerdy gents home for winter break have discovered a female gamer at a midnight release.

During the break, the gamer trio manages to reveal the game's secret boss, a hidden enemy with enough power to destroy anything in its path.

Pursued by other gamers who want to be the first to beat this boss, George and Katie race to level up, and, in so doing, restore decency and sexual activity to their personal galaxy..

First Date: All right! Midnight release for a game! George and Lanyon meet Katie... and they clash (George has the last copy of the game he and Katie were there to buy). Lanyon is clearly going to be the coming relief, I can tell but I don't mind. 

Second Date: That was the funniest and most awkward 'first date', Katie and George are two crazy kids but my kind of crazy for the most part. I don't like Jeff! Also, Katie, sweetheart, just because Jeff paid for your movie ticket and dinner, does not mean you have to let him slobber all over you and dry hump you at Denny's. Seriously! Plus, what are you doing going on a date with him?

Third Date: Oh, more references to gaming, less Jeff and more of Katie + George, their date-date was actually really sweet. Lanyon, you're creepy (you like to tag-along in other people's dates) but I like you, keep on being weird. 

Relationship Status: I shall play this game again.

I don't suspect Backward Compatible will be for everybody, it's heavy on the gaming references and 'geek culture', everyone has a mouth that would put a trucker to shame and part of me always felt like I should be ofended but never did because I was laughing too hard. 

Definitely a romance a little outside the norm, but a very entertaining one, I liked it a lot and, like I said, it made me laugh so much. And it had it's moments when it was actually very sweet, and I liked everyone in the book, really, except for Jeff. 

April 16, 2014

Book Review: The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw by Christopher Healy

At First Sight: Several weeks after the end of their last adventure, the Legue of Princes finds itself in deep trouble once more. There is a rumor running amok all the 13 kingdoms: that Briar Rose is dead and that the Princes Charming and their friends are responsible for it. Soon, Liam, Duncan, Frederick, Gustav, Ella, Lila, Snow and Rapunzel are the prime suspects. More over, there is a huge bounty on their heads and they are being hunted down by various bounty hunters.

After various circumstances that bring them together and then split them off, we follow the boys and the girls, as they try to clear their names, going about it in very different ways.

But soon, both groups stumble into a bigger, darker plot. 

Second Glance: Yes, I'm being vague again, but I just can't tell you what Hero's Guide To Being an Outlaw is all about without spoiling it big time, so I won't.

I always enjoy reading another adventure of the League of Princes and Outlaw was no exception, I love the gang - and I really liked seeing characters like Snow and Rapunzel having more page time and more time in their adventures, I like them both a lot. Also, Lila, I love Lila and her dynamic with Ruffian the Blue, if there was a moment when I got really emotional in this book (or two) it involved them.

On the other hand, there was a character I wished had a lot more page time because she's fun when she's around, but it didn't happen. Also, I have to say that by now, Liam is my least liked character of the bunch, I really liked Gustav in this one (he grew up a lot), and Duncan and Frederick have always been favorites, but Liam just... he didn't improve the more I got to know him, let's say.

Bottom Line: Hero's Guide To Being an Outlaw was a fun read, and it had its moments of pure awesome, but there were certain things that I didn't like as much as I had in previous installments. I still love the characters, and highly recommend the series, though. Book comes out on April 29th 

April 10, 2014

Book Review: Then and Always by Dani Atkins

At First Sight: Rachel Wiltshire has a great boyfriend, a place at a good university, great friends and a bright future. Until the night she and her group go out to celebrate their going away to college at the end of summer and a tragic accident leaves her life in pieces.

Years later, she returns to her hometown for her best friend's wedding and she's a completely different person, scarred both physically and mentally because of that accident and the things it took away from her.

Until tragedy strikes again, and she wakes up in a whole new-world, unsure which one is reality and which one is just a dream. 

Second Glance: I know it sounds like I gave away something of the plot of Then and Always but I actually kind of didn't, and I don't really have much to say about it other than it generated in me the same response as The Black Swan when I saw it: a big fat "That's it?"

I won't go into more detail than that, but while the writing was nice and I generally liked the characters and the plot of the book had lots of potential; the last minute twist - which I saw coming but was kind of hoping it wasn't what I thought it was going to be; just to have my hopes dashed because it totally was what I thought it was - was a last straw for me.

I just don't seem to enjoy when a book takes me on one direction and then deliberately switches lanes right at the end, for me it's a bit of a cheap shot. There were parts of the book that I really liked though, the book had me right at the beginning but then it lost me as it went on.

Bottom Line: All in all, I don't think Then and Always is a bad book, just that it was a bad fit for me. If you're into this sort of "sliding doors" and surprise reveals type of book, this might totally be for you. And really, the writing was good, it flowed pretty well, my troubles were more in the line of the plot itself. 

April 6, 2014

Book Review: Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry

The Deal: Vivian Walker and Seth Anderson met for the first time the night before their siblings got married. From the first time they saw each other, they felt an instant attraction, and eventually had a one-night stand they never told anyone about (mostly because both their siblings warned them off each other and wouldn't be happy at the idea of the two of them hooking up).

Ten years later, Vivian returns to Australia - after working as a fashion designer/stylist for the last few years in the US - and starts running into Seth again. Seth, on the other hand, is going through a bit of a rough patch: he has settled down somewhat after leaving his band and opening a bar; but he wasn't prepared for the shock he got when an on again-off again girlfriend of his got pregnant. 

Yet, he's facing his impending parenthood head on, and is actually kind of excited about it - even if his girlfriend, Lola, is a bit of a flake. Meeting Vivian again - and feeling the intense chemistry between them - is not exactly a welcome thing, but both are bound by their familial ties, so avoiding each other isn't an option.

My Thoughts: Well... I'm sorry to say Her Kind of Trouble wasn't a winner for me. The writing is lovely as usual and the story rather entertaining. but the estructure of the book just didn't work for me. 

We start at the rehearsal dinner for the wedding between Vivian's Sister and Seth's brother and everyone is warning Seth and Vivian off each other, and then they go and do the exact thing they were asked not to do (have sex with each other). Oddly enough, knowing right off the bat what had happened between them took off some of the charm of the book for me - I wasn't intrigued to find out what had happened between them because I already knew, if that makes sense; there was very little intrigue in that regard. 

And then there were the characters, I thought Vivian and most of the other characters were pretty okay, but I never really warmed toward Seth, he's very hard on Vivian when they meet again, and I didn't like that about him - in a way it's like he thinks less of her because she slept with him all those years ago. 

Especially considering the situation Seth is in. 

Like I said, the book is not bad per se, but it's not my favorite Mayberry by far, this one is just okay; and I have to say I didn't quite buy the romance - other than their few sexual encounters, I didn't buy Seth and Vivian together. 
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