March 31, 2010

Books Read in March

Here is an update of the 100+ Reading Challenge and the 2010 YA Reading Challenge. The books read for the YA challenge are in cursive and have their corresponding number next to the review link.

21. The Boy Book by E. Lockhart (review) *YA12*
22. Heartless by Sara Shepard (review) *YA13*
23. In the Cards: Life by Mariah Fredericks (review) *YA14*

24. Wicked All Day by Liz Carlyle
25. Forget Me Not (From the Life of Willa Havisham) by Coleen Paratore (review)*YA15*
26. Harbor Nights by Marcia Evanick.
27. With Seduction in Mind by Laura Lee Guhrke (re-read) (review)
28. Too Good to Be True by Kristan Higgins (review)
29. Blue Eyed-Devil by Lisa Kleypas (re-read) (review)
30. The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler (review) *YA16*
31. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. (review) *YA17*
32. Girl's Diner's Club by Jessie Elliot *YA18*

I kind of feel I'm going well! Slow but steady!

See you next month!

March 25, 2010

The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler

Cupcake QueenMoving from New York City to the small town of Hog's Hollow - where her Mom grew up - is a big and difficult change for Penny Lane, especially because her Dad stayed behind in the city, and at Hog's Hollow her mother seems unable to talk to her and spends most of her time working at the bakery she just opened, The Cupcake Queen.

Since she has no friends and doesn't feel like she fits in, Penny is mostly happy to spend her summer days in the bakery, designing decorations for the cupcakes.

However, when school starts and it begins to sink in that they might not be moving back anytime soon, and that her parents might not get back together, well, things get a little more complicated. Add to that the fact that the school's mean queen has Penny in her most hated list and she and her clique keep trying to make her life miserable.

There are some bright spots too, like the friendship Penny forges with Tally -a city girl transplant just like herself - and Blake (both Rock Paper Scissors aficionados), Marcus (whose family's getting back on it's feet after a tragic event) and his dog. And cupcakes, of course, lots of cupcakes.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, I loved the cover and I love cupcakes so I figured I would give it a go. Well, let me tell you, it was lovely. A sweet concoction of a book, even though it deals with a couple of topics that aren't light and fluffy at all, but deals with them in ways that ring true. There were also a couple of twists I loved, like the way Tally and Penny deal with Charity and her cronies. Over all, an interesting and sweet story.

starstarstarstar1/3Personal Favorite

PS - Before reading, I recommend having some cupcakes close at hand. Trust me, it's for the best.

March 24, 2010

Cover Love #3 - Misguided Angel


Here's the cover for the Fifth book in the Blue Bloods series, Misguided Angel, coming out October 5, 2010. And also the final cover for Keys of the Repository, coming out June 29th, 2010. I love both covers, and I'm SO glad that the the publisher is keeping the theme of the covers so they all fit nicely together, even the Keys one, with the silhouetted keys at the bottom.

As for the one for Misguided Angel, if my obsessive watching of Engineering an Empire doesn't fail me, I think that the city in silhouette is Florence. Will we go back to Italy in this book? I hope so. What is there not to love about Italy?

March 23, 2010

Attention Please: YA & Bad Romance

exclamation point
I was just reading Meg's post@In Which a Girl Reads regarding bad romance and YA's and it got me thinking real bad.

Go read the post, she's very eloquent about the whole thing and her basic premise is that there are some books (she names the likes of Twilight, Hush Hush, Fallen, etc.) in current YA Fiction that encourage Bad Romance, romance where the 'hero' is basically a domineering male that stalks, harasses, treats the heroine like dirt but is so hot that the heroine is eventually convinced that he is her true love.

She explains a lot more and links to other awesome posts.

Go Check it out!


March 20, 2010

Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins

Too Good To Be TrueHistory teacher and Civil War enthusiast Grace Emerson always found comfort in her imaginary boyfriends - the perfect guys she made up to help her cope at different stages of her life - and she saw no harm in her occasional fantasies about them.

Making up Wyatt Dunn, M.D. seemed like a good idea when Grace found her younger sister Natalie crying and about to break up with her boyfriend Andrew - who also happened to be Grace's ex-fiance - because Nat felt so guilty and was afraid that Grace was not over Andrew.

Coming home that night, Grace met her new neighbor Callahan O'Shea, who's tall, dark and handsome... and she hit him in the head with a hockey stick. For a while it seemed like all Grace did around Callahan was cause him bodily injuries (not to mention that her dog, Angus, was fond of biting his boots).

But the more she gets to know him, the more Grace grew to like him, and the less she needed Wyatt.

Too Good To Be True was a very nice read, light and fluffy. I loved Grace, who armed with her dog, her best friend Julian and sisters, went about her life filled with her students, Angus' antics and lots of Civil War reenactments. Callahan is my favorite hero by Kristan Higgins so far, he's charming and a little mysterious but also kind.

I liked Grace's older sister Margaret, she could be abrasive but she was also fun. And the scenes with Julian were just such a delight to read. The rest of Grace family, well, her mom was very annoying -sorry, she was! - and I'm sad to say I've noticed most of the moms in Kristan Higgins' books are that way, but oh well.


March 19, 2010

Forget Me Not (From the Life of Willa Havisham) by Coleen Paratore

Forget Me NotIt's summer once more in Bramble, Cape Cod, and Willa Havisham has it all planned out: dates with her cute boyfriend Joe, helping around her parents' inn, hanging out with her friends - old and new - and having her usual early walks on the beach. Not to mention all the books she plans to read and all the candy she will eat.

Things are not always easy, though: Joe seems to be thinking mostly about baseball, her best friend Tina is spending most of her time with Ruby (a girl who couldn't be more opposite to Willa), her step-father's sister wants to be married at the inn and Willa's Mom has put her in charge of the event. Oh and birds are creating controversy at the beach that Willa enjoys the most.

It might seem like things aren't exactly going Willa's way but she's not to be discouraged! Willa finds ways to help out, turn things around and even play cupid a little.

I'm a long-time Willa fan, there is no changing that and Forget Me Not is a nice a book as any other, Willa is funny and smart (though, I got to admit that, at times she seems a bit 'too good' but she does have her moments of jealousy that make her more human and real to me) and I love reading her books as much as she loves reading books.

I got a huge surprise in this book, one I never expected and I can't wait to read the next installment in the Willa-Chronicles (Wish I Might, coming out May 1st, 2010) to find out how everything is resolved.

Over all, there is plenty of Willa to love in this book.

starstarstarstar1/2Personal Favorite

March 18, 2010

Runaway by Meg Cabot

WARNING! Spoilers of Airhead and Being Nikki.

It has not been the best of Christmas Breaks for Em Watts, after finding out that the original owner of her current body, Nikki Howard, is still alive - though in an entirely different body - she was forced to lie to her best friend and love of her life Christopher and has been virtually kidnapped, along with the rest of the Howards, by Brandon Stark.

Once back in New York, Em's problems just get bigger as the Stark Angels Fashion Show - where she's supposed to wear the million dollar bra - comes closer and she and her friends start to unveil the secret that might have made Robert Stark want to kill Nikki Howard in the first place.

Runaway takes everything we have learned during the first two books and kicks it up a notch, making this book a fast paced ride. I love Em, I think she's a wonderful heroine who is really smart about most things, clueless about others and who still acts like a teenager; and I loved how she came to love herself in a way that perhaps she didn't before. It also says something nice about beauty - inside and out - which I shan't spoil.

Also, I love Lulu, Stephen, Frida and Felix, they always bring a certain something-something to every scene they step into. Loved the book.

starstarstarstar2/3Personal Favorite

(PS- Runaway comes out April 20th, 2010)

March 16, 2010

At the Movies: Nine

NineIn Nine, Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a writer/director set to begin production of his new and expensive film in just a few days but he has a small problem: there is no script and it doesn't look like there will be one soon. So begins a week in which Guido spirals around in fantasy, music and the many women in his life.

There is the memory of his mother (played by Sophia Loren), a beach side prostitute of his childhood (Fergie), his Muse (Nicole Kidman), a costume mistress (Judy Dench), a reporter hot for his form (Kate Hudson), his wife Louisa (Marion Cotillard) and his long time mistress Carla (Penelope Cruz).

We see a musical number as each woman tells her Guido-story and let me tell you, some of these numbers were superb.

The movie, overall, is a bit irregular, parts drag and get boring but some of the musical numbers make up for it. Marion Cotillard stole and broke my heart as Louisa and both her musical numbers were amazing -I specially liked "Take it All". The show's stealer is, without a doubt, Kate Hudson, singing Cinema Italiano like a pro!

The other ladies were adequate, I guess. Penelope Cruz was alright, I'm not a fan of hers and I felt like she was trying to channel Sophia Loren (as in trying to imitate an Italian Actress, I mean) and that was weird since Sophia Loren was in the movie too. Nicole Kidman and Judy Dench were a little better. Fergie surprised me because she looked so old and beat down but that was part of the point of her character and it made sense.

Over all I liked the movie for the musical that it was but it was hard to sympathize with Guido at times -he came off as a "Poor little me"-character most of the time - and, like I said, the movie loses it's pace a few times.

Rate: B+

March 13, 2010

In the Cards: Life by Mariah Fredericks

In the first two books, a set of tarot cards predicted the future for Syd's two best friends Anna and Eve, and in this third installment of In the Cards, it's finally Syd's turn.

As the summer begins, Syd's world seems to be imploding as her Dad's behavior becomes more erratic and she can't hide from the fact that he might have a drinking problem. Syd wishes for someone to listen but Anna is having troubles with Nelson and Eve is obsessed with an upcoming audition for a TV show.

When her need to know overrides her fear to know, Syd finally dares to ask the cards a few questions but the cards do little to reassure her (especially since her last card turns out to be "Death"). That only brings more conflicts for Syd, she hoped and wanted her friend's readings to be true - because they promised what they wanted - but she does not want her own reading to be so.

Yet, when the time comes, she leaves her beloved (and sick) cat Beesley under her father's care, to go with Eve to her audition, clinging to the hope that her Dad will be okay caring for her cat and that things will be okay.

But will they?

Syd's book hit so close to home for me, I'm the worrier of my family and I could understand Syd's fears and questions and the "What if's?" that plagued her. She has always been my favorite of these trio of friends and I was happy to read her story even though it dealt with slightly, lets say, darker themes than the first two books. But I'm happy to report that, even with that, Mariah Fredericks delivered a wonderful book.

I loved seeing other aspects of Syd's life, like her relationship with Mark - Eve's older brother - and Liz and the true love she had for animals and music; and I loved seeing her find her courage and strength.

In the Cards: Life gets:

March 11, 2010

ReVamped and Vampalicious by Sienna Mercer

ReVampedRe-Vamped (Book 3)

The moment of truth is coming for Olivia and Ivy... while searching for the her birth parents (and the reason why Ivy is a vampire and Olivia is human) it becomes known that Ivy has revealed the secret existence of Vampires to her twin sister. Since that's the most sacred secret of vampires, Olivia now has to prove she's worthy of knowing and keeping the secret.

Meanwhile, Ivy's father drops a bomb: Not only he doesn't want to meet Olivia but he's also moving to Europe and taking Ivy with him.

VampaliciousVampalicious (Book 4)

*SPOILER ALERT for book 3*

In the wake of Olivia's being accepted into the vampire community (even though she's still human) and a huge discovery regarding the identity of their biological father, Ivy and Olivia are working against time to convince Ivy's dad to stay.

In this book we finally learn why Ivy is a Vamp and Olivia is a Bunny and you can't help to love these two sisters who, even though they might not fully understand the reason why they were separated, they understand that they love each other and that they need to stay together.

Both books are fun and light and it's lovely to read about sisters that get along.

Grades (tied for both books)
starstarstar 1/2

March 10, 2010

Heartless by Sara Shepard

HeartlessHeartless is the seventh book in the Pretty Little Liars Series. Some Spoilers apply.

We're back in Rosewood, PA for the seventh time and our Pretty Little Liars are, as usual, having a crappy time.

After the fire that nearly killed them at the end of the last book, the girls aren't getting much sympathy. For one, everyone is saying they are just seeking attention; some are even starting to believe they might have had something to do with Ali's murder.

Plus, secrets keep coming out of the woodwork.

Emily follows "A's" instructions and ends up in Lancaster - in the middle of an Amish community - and makes some surprising discoveries about certain member of Rosewood PD. Aria thinks that Ali's ghost might be trying to tell her something and her quest to find out what that something is leads her to find understanding in a very unexpected place. Spencer begins to rebuild her strained relationship with her parents... only to see it crumbling down again. And Hanna gets shipped off to a mental health clinic, much against her will, and soon the fact that she can only talk to her new boyfriend once a week is the least of her problems.

Okay, so this is what's getting to be my problem with this series: I get that we all have secrets but why does EVERYBODY has to go around acting guilty? More over, most of the 'adult's are starting to resemble cartoons, especially the police.

I seriously have no idea how Sara Shepard is going to wrap up this story because right now it looks like too many lose ends. But I'm willing to find out, so I guess that counts for something.