October 31, 2011

Book Review: The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks

Girl in the Park
At First Sight: Wendy Geller was once Rain's best friend as neither of them quite fit at Alcott's, the fancy prep school they both attended. Rain has always been shy and not one to speak her mind, but it was Wendy the first person to ever tell her she had something important to say.

But Wendy's obsession with fitting in and being liked eventually drove them apart; specially after Wendy's mean streak was revealed. Since then, Wendy and Rain moved in sort of parallel realms of the same world, co-existing but not really having much to do with each other.

One morning everything changes when Rain is awakened by a phone call from Wendy's mom, worried sick because Wendy never came home the previous night. At first, Rain thinks everything is fine, that Wendy is just being Wendy and making a drama out of everything, but by that night, everything has changed.

A young woman was found in the Park, strangled and possibly abused. The girl was Wendy. And from them on, nothing will ever be the same to Rain. Soon she becomes obsessed with figuring out what really happened to Wendy, how did she end up in the park and the steps that took her there.

Second Glance: I wasn't sure what to expect from The Girl in The Park by Mariah Fredericks to be honest I just grabbed this book because of the author which is one of my favorites and I was completely surprised by what I found in this story as it's kind of far removed from Frederick's previous books.

Anyway, the best way I can think of describing this book is as an episode of Law and Order SVU, it had that kind of pace and vibe where you think someone did something and then it turns out it was something else. I'm not sure how I felt about this aspect of the book. But the writing was lovely, it was lyrical and it flowed well enough, even though it had an unusual pace, going back and forth between the past and the present. I do admit ti was kind of annoying at times, making me wish it moved forward more quickly.

Bottom Line: The Girl in the Park is definitely not what I was expecting from Mariah Fredericks but at the same time it had some of the things I love best about her writing. This book wasn't a favorite of mine, but the story wrapped it self around me all the same.

Favorite Quote: "People do pretty ugly things to make themselves feel better, this I do know."

October 28, 2011

Retro Friday (29) - Magic Knight Rayearth Vol 1 (Omnibus)

This week's retro friday is going to be a little different, as I choose to review the manga of Magic Knight Rayearth by CLAMP which was re-released last July by Dark Horse Comics.

At First Sight: Fuu, Umi and Hikaru are three Tokyo school girls, who go to different middle schools but happened to take a class field trip to the Tokyo Tower on the same day. Once there, they hear a strange voice asking the Magic Knights to Save Cephiro, before a blinding white light iluminated the sky.

Next thing they know, they are flying over a strange ocean, looking at big volcano and floating mountains. Oh, and they are catching a ride on the back of a huge flying fish.

They have arrived to Cephiro, a world where the will and strength of the heart rule everything. A world that is in a lot of danger since the high priest Zagato kidnapped the ruling princess of Cephiro, Princess Emeraude who is literally the Pillar of the whole world, her will and prayers what kept the world glued together. At least, that's what the strange looking kid (who claims to be over 700 years old but looks roughly about 10) tells them when trying to explain what they are doing in that strange world.

Fuu, Umi and Hikaru have been summoned to Cephiro by the princess, to become the legendary Magic Knights and help save the world. To do that, they must awaken three mashins - or rune gods - and learn magic... and face one of the best villains ever!!

Second Glance: Okay, as you might have noticed there is a lot going on, and if you can't detect it yet, I was gushing a little bit because I quite frankly love the anime series of Magic Knight Rayearth, but never had the chance to read the manga until now (thanks, NetGalley!).

I only got to sample the first 100 pages (the actual book has over 650, quite a good deal for 15 to 20 bucks, depending where you buy it), but I loved it. CLAMP has a very distinctive style that's is both incredibly beautiful and incredibly dynamic, something that serves this story well as there is a lot of action on it. It has some beautiful color pages - something I love, particularly since this is an special edition.

And, from what I know of the story, I say that they did a pretty awesome job with the translation. It flows well, it's understandable and it's even funny - I cracked up about 5 times while reading this). It starts almost like a (parody of a) role playing game but it evolves into so much more. There is love, lost and heartbreaking tragedy woven into a story full of adventure and fun and even dashes of romance.

Bottom Line: For me, this series is one of the best there is. This edition looks beautiful -as much as I could see from the e-galley - and I highly recommend it for the story alone. It does differ a little from the anime (particularly on the second season of the anime), but never the less, is awesome. I recommend it for anyone 12 years and up (the protagonists are 14, in case you were wondering). Currently only the first volume is out, but volume 2 will be out January 2012.
starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite
Retro FridayAlex

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time!

October 27, 2011

Book Gossip #28 - Farewell to Charms & Body and Soul

Hey!! I have some stuff to share, namely the burbs of two books I'm seriously looking forward in 2012!!

First of... Farewell to Charms by Lindsey Leavitt - third book and last book of the Princess for Hire Series. I loved the first book and I LOVED the second one, and I just can't wait to read this one, particularly because of how book 2 ended!

Here's the cover and blurb:

Desi Bascomb is a princess substitute prodigy—she's the fastest agent ever to advance to level three in the Facade Agency, and the youngest to ever be a full-time sub. But now with all eyes on Desi, the only thing she wants is a moment alone to talk to Reed, who's a Façade legacy and possibly the sub for Prince Karl!

As Desi trains for her new role, she spies more than a few cracks in Façade’s perfect appearance. But uncovering the agency’s dark past might require more than a princess sub can handle by herself. Desi is no damsel in distress, but sometimes a girl needs a knight in shining armor.

 Farewell to Charms comes out June 26, 2012.

And second... I give you Body and Soul by Stacey Kade (book 3 of the Ghost and the Goth) which comes out May 29th, 2012.
Since it doesn't have a cover yet, I'll just put the blurb according to Amazon and to Stacey's site

From Amazon:
Alona Dare has been living as Lily “Ally” Turner for over a month...and it's not been easy. Besides being trapped in a body so not as good as her original one, she's failing miserably at playing the sister and daughter of people she barely knows. Plus, she can't help but think that Will Killian - the boy she hates to care about - somehow wishes the real Lily were back.

She and Will have been trying to find a solution, looking for a two-for-one miracle that would free Alona and keep Lily alive. Visits to local pyschics have proven useless, but then they stumble across Malachi the Magnificent, who seems to be different. His office is full of ghosts, for one thing.

But Malachi doesn’t seem to hear or see them, which is odd. Plus, he bolts the moment he sees Will. To make things even weirder, Misty Evans, Alona's former best friend, is waiting in Malachi's lobby and claiming that she's being haunted. By Alona.

Will's convinced that Malachi has answers, while Alona is all kinds of pissed that someone's impersonating her. But their efforts to uncover the truth will bring them much unwanted attention and put them directly in the path of a ghost who will stop at nothing for another stab at life. Even if it means destroying Alona.

From Stacey's site:
The Ghost
I’ve been trapped in the body of Lily “Ally” Turner for a month now. Talk about a fashion crisis on an epic scale. What worries me more, though, is sometimes I catch Will looking at me like he thinks I’m Lily…or that he wishes I were. Without the good looks of my former self, I don’t know who I am, or if who that is is good enough. I need out of this mess. Now.
Will and I have been looking for a solution, one that would separate me from Lily without killing her. But it’s not going well. Then, when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, we run into Misty, my former best friend and boyfriend-stealer extraordinaire, who claims she’s being haunted…by me. Seriously?
I’m determined to get to the bottom of who’s pretending to be the spirit of Alona Dare (while I’m pretending to be someone else) and then get the heck out of this body. Or die trying…

The Goth
I’ll admit it. It’s really weird to look at Alona but see Lily. I do know the difference, though, contrary to what Alona might be saying. And Alona is more than a pretty face to me, not that she would believe that.
Our one lead for some help in this messed up situation might be a page torn from the yellow pages—the “Psychics” section—I found in my dad’s stuff. One of the “fakes” seems a bit more real—and odd—than the others. Before I can investigate further, though, Alona is off and chasing a ghost that’s probably nothing more than a figment of Misty’s guilty imagination. Now Lily’s family is freaking out because she didn’t come home, my mom is ordering me to stay out of it, and something is definitely wrong with the person formerly known as Lily “Ally” Turner…

I'm so excited to read these, and I can't wait!!

October 26, 2011

Book Review: Aphrodite the Diva by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

At First Sight: Aphrodite doesn't like when people think she's all beauty and no brains, and she knows her getting a D on hero-logy isn't going to help matters, particularly after that small incident known as the Trojan war, which she helped to start.

So - and even though she really wanted to take a holiday with her friends during Hero Week - Aphrodite convinces Mr. Cyclops, the herology teacher, to let her work on a special project to bring her grade up. 

So she starts The Lonely Hearts Club, where she plans to use her skills as Goddess of Love to help mortals find love. But a small problem arises when her first case leads her to Isis - the Egyptian Goddess of Love - and soon she finds herself in competition with the other goddess girl, trying to find a match for one of the most annoying boys ever! much as she much rather like be Isis friend.

Second Glance: This was such a fun book to read. Not only because the Goddess Girls series is one of my favorite series, but because I like the road the authors start to take with Aphrodite the Diva. I love how they are starting to expand on the lovely world they have already created. 

Aphrodite is such a girly, adorable girl, and I loved how she wanted to prove she was more than just a pretty girl, that she was smart and a hard worker too - much as she would rather spend her time shopping, she still takes her job seriously. She's funny and loves her friends and honestly believe there is a crush for everyone.

Also, I love seeing the consistency throughout the stories, and how -while every book can be read on it's own - how the world of MoA keeps going and growing. 

Bottom Line: An adorable addition to an adorable series. Aphrodite the Diva is cute, it has heart and it's a lot of fun to read. 

Favorite Quote: "Just when you thought you had godboys figured out, you didn't!"


October 25, 2011

Tune In Tuesdays #12 - Foreing Soundtrack Edition

 This meme is hosted by Ginger at GReads & showcases music. Each week you can post an old or new song so that it gains more interest! So head on over and link up.

As every fourth Tuesday of the month, I'm posting a song in a language different from English. This week I choose to go French! I'm feeling a little nostalgic and I've always loved this song. It has been featured in a ton of movies, including Sabrina and Wall-E - which I love - and Inception.

I give you... La Vie En Rose

This is a song that just makes me think of romance and France and all the touristy, corny things we tend to think about Paris. It also reminds me of Anna and the French Kiss, of course.

So, what song plays for you?

October 24, 2011

Book Review: Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

At First Sight: Lola Nolan enjoys dressing in outrageous costumes, adores her parents (Andy and Nathan, both men) and her San Francisco neighborhood. Her best friend Lindsey wants to be a private detective when she grows up, and her boyfriend is a rock musician (he's also twenty-five and a point of conflict between Lola and her parents). 

Aside from wearing an impressive Marie Antoinette gown for winter formal; and for her parents to accept her boyfriend, Lola has one wish: to never see the Bell twins ever again.

Calliope and Cricket Bell used to live next door to Lola and her family, and they used to get along great... until first Calliope decided not to be her friend anymore and, years later, something happened between them all. Though, luckily, they moved away soon after that, in pursuit of Calliope's figure skating dreams.

But now they are back, and with them all the memories of the things that were are weren't okay between them.

Second Glance: Alright, I'm going to come right out and say it: I hated Lola. While most of the characters were okay - I loved Andy and Nathan, for example, and I finally saw the awesome of Anna and Etienne (returning characters from Anna and the French Kiss) - and some grew on me - particularly Calliope - I deeply disliked Lola for about 90% of the book, which I don't think is ever a good thing

She was whinny, and annoying and such a drama queen. Plus, she was willfully blind to the things around her. And she was the "Etienne" in this book: the one stringing a long a perfectly decent person who cared about her deeply, mostly just because she could. And while in Anna, Etienne had a lot of charm going for him, and a set of circumstances that made his actions make sense (even if he was a bit of a jerk at times); Lola didn't have any of that.

Her boyfriend Max was a bit of a surprise. At first I wasn't sure if he was a jerk - maybe because Lola was narrating and she had stars in her eyes for him (though the whole 25 year old dating a 16/17 year old girl was a bit ew-y anyway) - but even after his asshattery becomes evident he had moments of clarity when he voiced exactly how I was feeling about Lola. It was cruel, sure, but it was still clarity.

Bottom Line: I liked Lola and the Boy Next Door a lot less than I liked Anna. But it's a good book, easy to read, and even easy to get into it. I could even say that I liked - or grew to like - everything about it, except for it's protagonist.

Favorite Quote: "There are some people in life that you can't get over."

October 23, 2011

At the Movies: Bride Wars

Bride Wars

Liv and Emma have been friends since they were young girls, and are both currently living in New York City and in committed relationships. Ever since they were children, they have both been obsessed with someday having a June wedding at The Plaza. 

And it seems like their dreams will come true, when their boyfriends propose within days of each other. Soon, Liv and Emma embark on what they think will be a Wedding Planning Fest, and the first order of business is hiring Marion St. Claire to plan their weddings and book the place in the Plaza.

But it all goes to hell when a clerical mistake results on Liv and Emma's wedding to be booked for the same day. And soon their wedding fever starts testing their friendship as the cracks in their lives and relationships start to show. 

I recently re-watched this movie, partially because I'm all for Wedding-Porn and partially because well, it's fun. Bride Wars is the kind of movie that you can easily watch any given afternoon when it comes on TV. I can even put up with Kate Hudson who isn't one of my favorite actresses ever. 

I would give it a solid C+.

October 21, 2011

Retro Friday (28) - Treasured Vows by Cath Maxwell

Retro Friday
Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time! 

This week I chose Treasured Vows by Cathy Maxwell. This is an author that I don't follow religiously but I always wind up reading her books sooner or later. She creates lovely stories, I think. And Treasured Vows is not only my favorite by her, but also one of my favorite romance novels ever.

Treasured Vows
At First Sight:  At 25, Phadra Abbott is tired of living in a boarding school waiting for her famous explorer father to return. So she runs away and sets her own house in London, happily thinking one of her father's only worthy discoveries - a set of priceless emeralds, left in the care of the Bank of  England - will back her up financially.

But once the bills start to pile up, one of the bank directors - Sir Cecil - calls her in and gives her some shocking news. The emeralds in the bank's vault are fakes left behind in place of the real gems, which Sir Cecil and her father pawned away to finance Abbott's latest expedition, the one from which he never returned.

Now, all Phadra wants is to find her missing father but Sir Cecil instead decides that Phadra must be married off to be kept out of trouble. Enter Grant Morgan. Grant works for Sir Cecil at the bank - more like he does all the work and Sir Cecil takes the credit - and he has been saving like crazy, trying to build a respectable fortune and hoping to eventually become one of the bank's directors - a post that comes with a knighthood -thinking his work is enough to get him them.

But Sir Cecil has other plans and unless Grant finds Phadra a suitable match, he'll block Grant's chances to move up in the bank. But if he succeeds, Sir Cecil will give him the hand of his daughter in marriage and help him get the post he wants.

Driven by ambition, Grant takes on the task, often clashing with the colorful, outgoing Phadra. Until one of her rash decisions results on their having to get married.

Second Glance: As I sad before, this is one of my favorite books ever. It's a story where polar opposites attract. Phadra is all outgoing, all her own person, and even if she's a bit reckless and headstrong at times, she means well and is smart. Also, she has a big heart and is always trying to help other people, even if she needs help herself.

Grant, on the other hand, is level headed. He's a banker and one of the most solid men I've ever read in a novel. He's remarkably handsome but ignores it the best he can. And he has an interesting past - his father was a renowned rake who nearly destroyed his family, and Grant was very much on the path to follow him, until his father died and he had to take her of his younger sisters.

One of the things I love the most about this story is that, while Grant learns to appreciate the unique, lovely spirit Phadra is, he's also in control. He's a guy who got your back and goes out of his way to make sure you're fine. That's how he loves Phadra. He's practical for the two of them, allowing her to be as whimsical as she wants.

Bottom Line: Treasured Vows is just a lovely, comforting story. I re-read it every couple of years and just let the warm fuzzies roll over me.
starstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

October 20, 2011

Book Review: Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm

I'm not sure if the cover is final
At First Sight: Libby is going to spend her summer as an inter in Camden Harbor, a colonial, historical villa/museum - much to her best friend Dev's consternation, as he is going to his own dream internship in New York, working for a fashion magazine for teens. 

Much as Libby loves clothes and thinks herself as quite stylish, she's happy to be at Camden Harbor, Maine, where everything seems to have come straight out her most romantic fantasies about the past - including a bunch of hot guys running around dressed in 18th century garb! - even if her job is basically that of a glorified camp counselor and one of her roommates is a nightmare.

But soon she has caught the eye of Cam, the hottest guy around - whom can quote Shakespeare and brings her flowers - and she also has a troupe of adorable eight year-olds that she's teaching to bake, 18th Century style. 

But then, rookie reporter Garrett shows up, and unwittingly offers a way for Libby to leave the intern house, she finds herself living in close quarters with Garret - inside a boat - and not having too bad a time of it. Sure, Garret can be a bit of a jerk sometimes, and he love sci-fi a bit too much; but he can also very, very sweet when he wants to... and he kisses like they are in a movie!

Second Glance: I wasn't expecting much of Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink, I admit but I was so happily, pleasantly surprised with it. Libby was a great narrator - sweet and fun, a history buff who also likes romance novels and BBC dramas; she makes mistakes but owns up tot hem too. She is a little naive a very strong, girly, awesome girl.

There is a bit of a love triangle and I rarely enjoy that, but I liked how this triangle was written. Both guys - Cam and Garrett - can be both charming and annoying when they want to, and right at the beginning it's hard to pick one or the other (though I was quickly swayed as the story progressed). 

Oh and Libby's best friend Deb was AWESOME! I want a book on him. And I loved how their relationship is written. Right off the bat I knew these two were best friends, I could feel it. And I loved him when he finally showed up. 

Now, I did have a couple of hang ups with the book, as I said it could be naive at times; and I had a hard time believing that No One had a problem with Libby (who is 16 or 17) living unsupervised in close quarters with Garrett (who is 18). Even though they behaved very well, I don't think the 'grown ups' around them would have just been OK with it. Also, I wish the secondary characters had been a bit more developed, and to have Libby's campers more, they were way cute.

Bottom Line: Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink is basically made of awesome sauce. I had one small hang up with it - it can be a little naive - but otherwise this is definitely one of my favorite books I've read this year! It comes out March 12, 2012.

Favorite Quote: I have to say that this book is so quotable, there were so many scenes and one liners that I loved but were kind of spoilerish, so I went for:

"Love is the force that makes you choose and decide" -

starstarstarstar2/3Personal Favorite

October 18, 2011

Tune in Tuesdays #11 - Soundtrack Edition

 This meme is hosted by Ginger at GReads & showcases music. Each week you can post an old or new song so that it gains more interest! So head on over and link up.

So... I'm a big fan of Enchanted and one of the things I love the most about it is the music. When I first saw it it reminded me of the music of movies like Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast, of course, Alan Menken is in part responsible for the music of all these films (as Howard Ashman passed away shortly before the completion of Beauty and the Beast)... and I'll stop boring you guys with Disney lore.

Instead I give you the songs of Enchanted!

That's How You Know - Huge musical number, I love it.

Happy Working Song - does make chores less of a burden!

True Love's Kiss -  Classic operetta-style Disney opening

Ever Ever After - I actually love the lyrics even thought the video is kind of cheesy

So Close - A lovely ballad.

 So, what song plays for you?

October 17, 2011

2011 Movie Madness Challenge - Round Up!

Movie Madness

All right! The 2011 Movie Madness Challenge is hosted by me (here at A Girl, Books and Other Things) and by Kylie @ The Talking Teacup, and the aim is to watch 100 or more movies in one year and, with the year almost over I thought it was time for another round up.

Up until last month, I had seen over 150 movies and TV shows! I couldn't believe it, mostly because I had never really paid much attention to the amount of time I spend watching movies.

Anyway, to celebrate the fact I accomplished the feat - and hopefully you have too! - I'm going to give you a list of the... movies I always leave on when they are on TV!

I think we all have movies like that, that you have seen so many times but still enjoy so whenever you happen to catch them on TV, and even if you come in right at the middle of it, you have to stay and finish watching. And here are some of mine:

Mean Girls
 I don't know how many times I have seen this movie just this year alone. I love it. I love Rachel McAdams being so evil but fabulous. And I even like Lindsay Lohan in this movie, even though I haven't liked any of her movies that came after - did Freaky Friday came after this one? because that one I liked! - anyway. It's just one of those movies. Plus, who would have known seeing Amanda Seyfried playing dumb is just plain fun.

I have a love affair with this movie, I find it so comforting and fun, and I just love how playful it is. It's my ultimate feel good movie. Plus, I think it's the movie I've seen the most on cinemas - I went, like, four times when it first opened, and I loved every single time. Oh, and the musical numbers! I love me some big, old fashioned music and dance moments!!

This one is one of the few movies everyone in my family agrees that they love. We all sit together and watch it whenever it's on TV. And we have been known to just put the DVD in whenever we get tired of commercial breaks while we are watching the movie. I don't generally like the sports, triumph of the spirit movies, but I like the Titans. Plus, a teeny tiny Hayden Panettiere was so cute, as was Ryan Gosling

Ever After
Both movies starring Drew Barrymore are big comfort movies for me. Ever After I love because it's a Cinderella retelling and I love those. Plus is well done and funny. And I love Never Been Kissed because it's so unreal, the kind of thing it only works on a movie, which is awesome. Plus, it has Michael Vartan, whom back then I thought was really cute.

I love Kate Winslet in this movie and I even like Jack Black in this movie. They are the whole reason why I love this movie and while I watch it every time it's on TV, even if it's kind of Christmas movie and we are in the middle of July! Plus, I love the whole subplot with the Hollywood writer Agnes (Kate Winslet's character) befriends, I think it's my favorite story. I even tolerate Cameron Diaz and Jude Law, even though neither are favorites of mine.

And there you have it, some of the movies I always leave on when they are on TV. Others include... Casper, Clueless, Where the Heart Is, Princess Diaries, Legally Blond, and In Her Shoes.

What about you? Any movies you can't walk away from? (even if you're not doing the challenge, leave a comment!). If you're doing the challenge and decide to do an update, link us up to it.