July 31, 2010

Books Read In July

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.


58. Only The Good Spy Young by Ally Carter (review) *YA28*
59.
Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Díaz (review) *YA29* - International Book Tours
60. Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas (review)
61. Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCollough *YA30*
62. Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn (review)
63. Insatiable by Meg Cabot (review)
64. An Heir for the Millionaire by Julia James and Carole Mortimer
65. A Certain Wolfish Charm by Lydia Dare (review)
66. Scarlet Fever by Maureen Johnson (review) *YA31*

So, I guess that'll be all for this month! Little better than last!

Sadly, I'm in a bit of a slump, so right now I'm re-reading Harry Potter to cheer me up. Good news: it's working! Bad news: don't know how it will affect my challenges. But oh well. I hope to still be able to keep the blog updated at least a couple times a week.

See you next month!
Alex

July 30, 2010

Scarlet Fever by Maureen Johnson

Scarlet FeverAs summer-time leaves New York, Scarlett Martin is saying goodbye to Hamlet, the play her brother and company staged at the Martins' worn down hotel. Without Hamlet, Scarlet won't be able to see her crush Eric - an actor in the play who turned out not to be such a good guy during Suite Scarlett - every day, even though she knows it's high time she stopped crushing on him.

Not that she's not plenty busy, with school starting and her boss Mrs. Amberson driving her insane.

Mrs. Amberson is trying to get more clients to represent - currently, her only client is Spencer, who hasn't managed to get a job even with the good buzz from Hamlet - which means Scarlett has to tag along as Mrs. Amberson tries to woo teenage Broadway star-in-the-making Chelsea to sign with them. With Chelsea comes Max, her older brother who's now attending Scarlett's school and driving her even more crazy.

To add to it all, Scarlett's younger sister Marlene is acting suspiciously nice - which is downright creepy - and her older sister Lola seems to be going back to her former boyfriend, the dull but rich Chip. And then Spencer lands a role that turns him into the most hated villain on TV.

Financial woes, hotel life and everything else are threatening to drive Scarlett crazy, or at least give her a fever, I guess.

I know that it sounds like there is a lot going on during Scarlet Fever but it isn't really the case, the first part of the book is slow, it picks up when Spencer and Lola start to have their own troubles but the go around in circles quite a lot and by the end - which was no end at all - I was only liking Spencer out of the huge cast of characters we have going on.

The ending, above all, made me feel just like I felt when I first saw The Fellowship of The Ring - you know, the ending that it's no ending at all - I felt cheated out of the ending.

Sure, maybe I was expecting more because I actually quite liked Scarlett and the Martins - except Marlene, I can't like her and it makes me feel like crap because she's a cancer survivor kid and I DON'T like her at all - during the first book, but I don't know.

This book was just not for me.

starstarstar
Alex
PS -Wish they had stayed with the original cover concept, this cover isn't bad but I liked to original concept better than the keys.

July 29, 2010

Book Blogger Hop #3

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly Meme hosted by Jennifer@Crazyf For Books

Who is your favorite new-to-you author so far this year?

Well, I think that my favorite debut author so far this year has been Rachel Hawkins, I enjoyed Hex Hall a lot and I'm quite looking forward to reading the sequel next year.

What about you guys?

Happy Blog Hop.
Alex

July 26, 2010

Series Review - The Bridgertons by Julia Quinn, Part 3

The Meh

These are the ones that I didn't like-like, that were less than ok but not bad. You can check Part 1 and Part 2.

KissIt's In His Kiss (Book 7)
Hyacinth Birdgerton, the youngest daughter of the Bridgerton family, finally meets her match thanks to the ever fabulous and outspoken Lady Danbury who introduces Hyacinth to one of her grandsons: Garret St. Claire.

Garret is one of the few men ever to make Hyacinth nervous and, in the past, Hyacinth always made sure to stay away from such men, but she just can't stay away from Garret.

Then he asks her help to translate a book left by his grandmother (written in Italian) which tells the secrets of his family and might finally unearth the reason why his father hates him so much.

WeddingOn the Way to the Wedding (Book 8)
Gregory Bridgerton - the last man standing of the Bridgerton Clan - is a fashionable man about town, young and carefree, he has never worried too much about finding love, after all, all of his 7 siblings managed to find it. Gregory thinks that, when he meets the right woman, he'll know.

So happens that he 'knows' while at a party given by her sister-in-law Kate, when he sees Hermione Watson and he instantly knows. Since Hermione is swamped by suitors, Gregory forms an alliance of sorts with Lucy Abernathy - Hermione's best friend - to court Hermione, and, since he does like Lucy quite a bit, ends up forming a friendship with her.
But then the eternal question springs forth, what will happen on the way to the wedding? and, more important, Whose Wedding?


It's in His Kiss and On the Way to the Wedding were my least favorite books of the series for two very different reasons. It's in his Kiss was much awaited, because we had all seen Hyacinth grow up and she was the cheekiest most adorable girl of the B-Clan, but in her book, it just didn't come across. Oh, there are some nice moments in the book - like when Lady Bridgerton talks about when Hyacinth was born, a few weeks after her husband had died - but in the end it just wasn't as charming as I hoped it would be.

And, On the Way to the Wedding, well here what happened was that we never really got to know Gregory, he's 16 years younger than Anthony, so for the majority of the B-clan's series, he wasn't around, he was too young to hang out with his other brothers, and during the girls' books he was away at school or university and we never got to know him before his book. And you have to admit the plot is a bit convoluted.

Again, kudos to Mrs. Quinn because she has enough talent to pull the books off, and I did finish them - I don't think I would have finished them had they been by another, less talented author - but they weren't her better efforts, sorry to say.

And that's it!!
We are done with the Bridgertons! Honestly, most of the books are delightful reads and I do hope you pick them up.
Alex

July 24, 2010

At The Movies: Blue Crush

Blue CrushGirls get ready to surf as here we come with another installment of Summer Movies!

With the help of her friends, Anne Marie is preparing for a big surfing competition in Hawaii (where they live) while working at a resort in Maui and trying to stay afloat financially.

Anne Marie hasn't been in a competition since three years before she got hurt and almost drowned, but winning this one means everything to her and her friends, so she decides to try.

At the same time, she meets a football player, who at first hires her to teach him to surf but who might want more.

I had never seen this Blue Crush until recently and I enjoyed it a lot, it's a light summer movie. There is the beach, there is romance and there is friendship. And there are some kick ass surfing scenes. It's not the movie everyone was waiting for but it's fun. Plus, Kate Bosworth actually looked cute, back when she still had a body.

Alex

July 22, 2010

Book Blogger Hop #2

Book Blogger Hop

Second week of Hopping! Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer@CrazyForBooks and I had such great fun participating last time that here were go again!

This week's question:
TELL US ABOUT THE BOOK YOU ARE CURRENTLY READING!
I'm just starting Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs, only a chapter in but I'm liking it so far. I loved Ms Child's previous two books (Oh.My.Gods and Goddess Boot Camp) so I hope this one is just as good.
Alex

A Certain Wolfish Charm by Lydia Dare

wolfishWhen her beloved nephew, Oliver, starts changing at an alarming rate - both physically and character wise - Lily Rutledge decides she has had enough of being ignored by Oliver's guardian, one Simon Westfield, Duke of Blackmoor. So she sets out to find Blackmoor and make him take his responsibilities toward Oliver more seriously.

Simon currently has his plate rather full, though. He and his brothers are werewolves, and he's finding harder and harder to fight his most animal urges. So having Lily in his house isn't probably very wise but he can't let her go, especially after he realizes the why of Oliver's changes.

I'm sorry to say that I found A Certain Wolfish Charm a bit flat, the characters were very one dimensional and there was very little character development. The story sounded interesting but it just didn't deliver in the end and I felt like I went around in circles for a good long while.

The first part of the book was quite good, but it just never progressed from there. There was promise and there were a couple of secondary characters that I quite liked but in the end it was just meh.
starstar2/3
Alex

July 20, 2010

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Insatiable... or prepare yourselves for a very long, very gushy review.

Writing for the long-running soap Insatiable is Meena Harper's dream job but it comes with some less-than-dreamy things attached to it, like her new boss Shoshona (who got the promotion that should have been Meena's) and the fact that Shoshona and the network are adding a Vampire story line to the show.

Like Meena doesn't have enough problems of her own, among them the fact that she knows when someone is going to die, and that no matter how much she tries to help, half the time people just don't listen to her. Still, when one night she can't sleep and her little dog, Jack Bauer, pleads to be taken out for a walk - at 2 A.M. - Meena figures it can't hurt. She had no idea that Lucien Antonescu would rescue her, and Jack, from a bat attack outside St. George's Cathedral and that, in doing so, would change her life... and her perception of vampires.

Lucien is none other than the Prince of Darkness in the flesh, come to New York to take care of some unpleasant business that might have something to do with his brother, and maybe to sweep Meena off her feet.

Following Lucien's footsteps is Palatine Guard Alaric Wulf, hunter of all things evil who has an special bad grudge against vampires and who will go any length to see Lucien destroyed.

Allow me to pause at this point to say this is not a typical vampire novel, but it is typical Meg Cabot in that it's made of AWESOME. I'm not kidding.

Meena is sweet and funny (she has a secret candy stash hidden in her office!) but she's also surprisingly clear eyed when it comes to Lucien and Alaric, seeing them for who they are -good and bad - rather than just as a vampire and a hunter.

Alaric became one of my favorite hunters of evil things (I'm putting him up there with Buffy! that's major props!), he named his sword, likes Betty and Veronica comics and has Goofy watch. He's also very good at mercilessly killing vampires.

And Lucien, well, there is no doubt he's a vampire but he's the kind of Vampire I like: he knows what he wants, he goes to get it, he's not one of those who nobly restrains. He's also mature, and very aware of the respectability he shoulders, he acts like a man, not like a teenager.

Aside from these three very strong, awesome characters, Insatiable has a lot more going on. There is this very visual feel about the book - Meg does a great job with descriptions, it was like I was reading in Technicolor - with a dash of Law & Order. Great Pop Culture references without excessive name-dropping, great support characters and just a really well-rounded story.

I'm already biting my nails waiting for the sequel - coming out Summer 2011 - because I just can't wait to spend more time with Meena & Co. This book is that good!

Favorite quote: "Alric didn't give him a chance for any last words. In his experience vampires didn't really have anything that interesting or insightful to say. It was all Shakespeare and emo."
starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite
Alex

PS - Check out Meg's site, it's full of Insatiable extras!

July 19, 2010

Series Review - The Bridgertons by Julia Quinn, Part 2

The Okay - These are the books that, though they weren't as amazing to me as the ones for Part 1, are still pretty okay.

The Duke and I (Book 1)
DukeDaphne Bridgerton is probably one of the best liked debutantes of her season, and that is precisely her problem. Everyone thinks she's nice, almost like one of the guys, the perfect girl to be friends with but not really the type to inspire great passion.

Enter Simon Basset, the Duke of Leeds. Simon is as big as catch as anything in the marriage mart, and he happens to be Daphne's brother's best friend. And since he doesn't really want to get married, now or ever, he and Daphne strike a bargain: they shall pretend to be courting, nothing serious, so Daphne's status goes up and so Simon is spared from being accosted by every marriageable girl in London, and her mother.

But, what started as a convenient arrangement might turn into so much more.

Sir PhillipTo Sir Phillip With Love (Book 5)
Eloise Bridgerton likes to write letters and she particularly likes to write letters to Sir Phillip Crane, a recent widower who was married to one of her distant cousins. What started as a sympathy letter turned into friendship, though they had never met. And when Sir Phillip asks Eloise to come visit him so they can see if they might suit well, Eloise is very tempted to go.

Phillip isn't exactly looking for romance, but he would dearly like some help in raising his unruly children - twins, boy and girl - and he does think he might like to be married to someone happy (unlike his first wife) as Eloise sounds in her letters.

What he doesn't know is that nothing is simple when it comes to Eloise Bridgerton

WickedWhen He Was Wicked (Book 6)
Francesca Bridgerton thought she had her happy ending when she married John, earl of Kilmartin just a few months after they met. But John died soon after, leaving her alone save for Michael, John's cousin and her dear friend.

Michael has a secret though, he has been in love with Francesca since they first met, during her engagement ball.

Unable to cope with his cousin's death, Michael leaves for India, where he spends many years while Francesca stays in England -and Scotland - coming to terms with what she lost and deciding what she wants for the rest of her life.

And then Michael comes back...


Alright, it's not that I don't love these Bridgerton girls, it's just that for some reason or another, I didn't love their books, I just liked them. Oddly enough, the girls don't seem quite as close as the brothers, I don't know why but that's how I feel. Simon and Phillip are adequate heroes - I mean, they are heroic enough - but well, I don't know, they aren't as charming as the Bridgerton brothers. Michael is a very good hero though! I do have to say that.

So, there you have it. These books are okay, not remarkable but nice enough reads.
Alex

July 16, 2010

Book Blogger Hop #1

Book Blogger Hop

Thought I would give this a try for a few weeks. Book Blogger hope is hosted by Jennifer@Crazy For Books

This week's question is:

RIGHT THIS INSTANT, WHAT BOOK ARE YOU DYING TO GET YOUR HANDS ON (PAST, PRESENT, OR FUTURE)?

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta is SO at the top of my list right now. I love Melina but I hate that her books always take forever to make it to the US market from Aussie-land.

And, in the hypothetical, if there were ever to be a Bard Academy Book 4 (by Cara Lockwood) I would be the happiest camper ever.

See you next week,
Alex

July 15, 2010

List Maniac #7 - Favorite Couples in YA

ListManiac
It was not easy to come up with this list, YA usually deals with boys and girls who are in their teens, and sometimes it's hard to believe that these couples are meant to be together for the rest of their lives, but sometimes it happens, I buy it and believe it and here are my Top 5 Favorite Couples in YA

Sparrow5. Tristan and Elaine - Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell
Song of the Sparrow is one of my favorite books of Arthurian legend (and in general) and one of the things about it that I love the most is the way Elaine falls out of love with Lancelot and looks at Tristan - her friend and companion, specially after Lancelot (her childhood hero and crush) starts ignoring her - and sees the love he has for her even though he was kind of afraid to fall in love (after the whole Tristan and Isolde thing). Still, it was super good to see this strong girl find someone she could rely on for real.

MediatorJesse and Suze - The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot
She was a girl, he was a ghost and still they fell in love. Jesse is the ghost of a guy who was killed in Suze's house in the 1850's and he's very much an old fashioned gentleman. Suze is a mediator, a liaison between the living and the dead, and she'll be the first to admit that it's a raw deal but she'll also be the first to admit that meeting Jesse was one of the best things that ever happened to her. Theirs is a love that truly conquers all, even death.

Special mentions to Rob and Jess (of 1-800-Where-R-U) and Michael and Mia (of Princess Diaries) both by Meg Cabot, because their love stories were also sweet and, oddly, against the odds! They deserved a mention!

Nick and NorahNick and Norah - Nick and Norah's Infinite Play List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
One crazy night all around New York City, filled with music and the infinite possibilities of "maybe". When Nick sees his ex walk into the club where his band was playing he asks Norah to be his girlfriend for the next 5 minutes, and so begins their journey. Their story doesn't wrap up everything in a nice bow, but it does leave that lingering, wonderful feeling of maybe, of anything and everything can happen between these two and, in the end, when you're 17, that's kind of all you can hope for, right?

Bard AcademyMiranda and Heathcliff - The Bad Academy Series by Cara Lockwood
Everything about the Bard Academy is a bit off, Miranda quickly realizes that after she gets sent there for accidentally totaling her odious step-mother's car. One of the good things about the place, though, is Heathcliff, a mysterious boy with no other name who is always there when she needs him. Heathcliff has secrets tied to Miranda's family, but after they met and the more time they spent together I could totally believe that what he felt for her wasn't because of the past but because of whom Miranda was to him. And that, my friends, is good-love.

Jellicoe Road
Jonah and Taylor - On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Jonah and Taylor's story is complicated. Both of them have personal issues to deal with, things about their past that aren't so good. But when they are together you can feel the spark between them jump off the page. They bring the best out of each other, and their relationship is super intense but there is something sweet underneath that intensity: the fact that they want to and take care each other. They are the cherry on the top of an awesome book, Jellicoe Road, and theirs is a story that leaves a bit of an afterglow when you're done. That's how good their love-story is.

That's it for this list! See you soon with more!

Love,
Alex

July 12, 2010

Series Review - The Bridgertons by Julia Quinn, Part 1

Part 1 - The Good

The stories about the Eight Bridgerton siblings form one of my favorite family sagas ever. However, as it's with very long series, it's a bit uneven so I decided to divide these reviews in The Good, the OK, the Meh. So, to start with the Good!!

ViscountThe Viscount Who Loved Me (Book 2)
Anthony, Viscount Bridgerton has decided he's going to marry this year, he's twenty-nine and thinks it's time he started having children, especially since he doesn't expect to live to be 40 and does want to have and heir and all that. Since the Belle of the Season is Edwina Sheffield, Anthony decides she's the one he's going to marry but there is a small obstacle in his plan: Kate Sheffield, Edwina's older sister who doesn't think rakes - and Anthony is a rake - make good husbands and it's not about to let her little sister ruin her life with a bad marriage.

Only that, on further acquittance, Anthony is not the big rake Kate thinks he is, hes quite devoted to his family, just as she is, and they might like each other far more than what is wise.

An Offer From a Gentleman
(Book 3)
GentleanSophie Beckett's life has never been particularly happy, born the bastard daughter of the Earl of Penwood, Sophie went from being regarded as a daughter of the house - the earl said she was his ward - to being little more than a slave once her father dies, leaving her at the mercy of his wife. When the other servants help her sneak out and go to Lady Bridgerton's famous masquerade ball, Sophie is just thinking of having a good time for a change.

Instead, she met Bennedict Bridgerton and experienced the kind of love at first sight that one only reads about in fairy tales... at least for one night.

Romancing Mr. Bridgerton
(Book 4)
RomancingColin Bridgerton has known Penelope Featherington most of his life, as she is his sister's Eloise best friend, and he once went as far as to declare that he was never going to marry Penelope Featherington... but Penelope has been in love with him from the moment she met him, and though she doesn't hope he'll love her back, she's quite sure she can't love anyone else.

Since Colin likes to travel, he and Penelope have seen each other as friends over the years, and now that Colin is 33 and Penelope 28, suddenly something is different between them. Maybe Penelope finally grew into herself, maybe Colin is just seeing her - really seeing her - for the first time.


One of the things I love the most about The Bridgertons is the deep sense of family they have, oh, you can read each book by itself - I started with Benedict's story, myself - but once you read it in order, you get a greater feeling of whom they are and enjoy the book so much more.

Anthony, Benedict and Colin are the oldest siblings of the B-Clan, and they pop into each others' stories often, which is quite fun. You do get to know them better through their interactions. And their heroines are super good, too. My favorite book is Anthony's, but my favorite heroine is definitely Penelope she was a huge secret that I think delighted everyone who had been following this family.

Julia Quinn writes lightly, her books are funny, her characters likable and in these books, she even sounded quite fresh. I often re-read these three, they are just so much fun.
Personal FavoritePersonal Favorite
Alex

July 10, 2010

Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn

Ten ThingsAnnabel Winslow's first London season isn't turning out to be as fun as she had hoped. With her family's financial security depending on her marring well, she feels selfish in admitting that she does not want to marry the Earl of Newbury - the only suitor she has who can provide for her family as well.

Newbury is old - as old as her grandparents, who are sponsoring her for the season - and the only reason he wants Annabel is because he's in desperate need of an heir and Annabel, given her wide hips and big boobs, looks like she can have plenty of children.

But there is one problem, Newbury's nephew Sebastian Grey - the heir presumptive - a former army sniper whom Annabel befriends at a ball, finding out until later that he's Newbury's detested nephew.

Sebastian is funny, he listens to her, not to mention that he's young and handsome and actually looks at her face rather than at her breasts when she talks to him, but Newbury wants her and her grandparents are very much in pro of the match which leaves Annabel feeling a bit trapped.

Ten Things I Love About You
is a fun, lighthearted book. Annabel and Sebastian are fun funny, charming people and very likable and I wanted them to be happy. Oh, and Sebastian has one delicious secret identity! I LOVED that aspect of the book.

That being said, I also felt the book was a bit too simple, Newbury's dislike of Seb was superficial at best, and it's never explained and I felt like everything resolved too quickly. Also, the way they were constantly describing Annabel's figure as that of a "Fertility Goddess" well, it was fun the first time they said it but by the third it was beginning to sound offensive, and by the tenth I was beyond annoyed.

Favorite Quote: "How tart. Positively lemonish of you."
starstarstar1/2
Alex
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