July 31, 2012

Books So Far - July

Hello guys! I'm here to give a brief round up of the two only challenges I chose to accept this year. 

The first being:


Movies/Series Watched: 15

In the year so far: 145

Favorites of the Month: G. I. Joe, Brave.

Least Liked: Lost in Austen - it was too much.

If you're doing the Movie Madness Challenge you can head off to The Talking Teacup to link up your update. 

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On the book department and my quest to read 200 books in a year?

Books Read this month: 16

Books read So far: 124

Re reads: 2


Romance: 9

Contemporary: 14

Historical: 3

YA: 4 (last year, I read way more YA, this one I seem to be leaning toward adult titles) 

Well, that's me! How's everyone doing so far?

July 30, 2012

Book Review: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross



At First Sight: Mirabelle was tired of her godmothers Elsa and Bliss always keeping things from her, things directly connected to her past and the fire that killed her parents when she was but a baby. She doesn't want to hurt them but she does need answers, so she hatches a plan to run away some days before her 16th birthday and find some answers. 


Her quest takes her to Beau Rivage, a beautiful seaside town where things aren't exactly what they seem. On her first night in town she meets the brothers Valentine. The first one, Blue, is an obnoxious teenager dead-set on driving Mira away by whatever means necessary. Then she meets Felix, who's in his early twenties and seems to run Dream, the casino the Valentines own. 

Felix is the one who decides to help her find answers, and Mira is soon enchanted by him. But at the same time he can't seem to avoid Blue, who keeps sucking her into his world and having her hang out with his friends. There is Viv with a morbid fascination with apples, Freddie who seems to have animal magnetism (as small, cute animals seem to follow him everywhere), and many others whose life seems to eerily mirror certain well known fairytales. 

After that, it doesn't take Mira long to find out Beau Rivage's secret: magic is alive and well there, fairies - good and evil - are real, so are curses, and life will always try to make you fullfil your destiny, sucking you in even as you try to run away. 

Second Glance:  Kill Me Softly sounded like it was going to be just my kind of book. I love all things fairy-tale and this promised to be a book where there would be plenty of fairy tales - and in that score it delivered. But I can't say I enjoyed most of it. 

The pace of it was slow, it took me forever to get through the beginning. The prose was taunting, so I wanted to keep reading but after a while it annoyed me. The writing said "something is going to happen soon" over and over, so I kept reading even as I thought it was a pretty cheap shot, the way in taunted, but it was effective. 

For a while I couldn't make sense of what was happening truly, and then, midway through the book, there is this MASSIVE INFO DUMP (MID) and suddenly everything is spelled out. Everything but the nature of Blue's curse - quite conveniently so, I might add. 

What followed was a series of anti-climatic events that nearly caused me to sprain my eyes since I was rolling them so much. There were a lot of things that were just left hanging, there is a Love triangle that is really kind of a square but not really. No one seems to care that Felix, who is at least 21 or 22, is 'dating' Mira who isn't even 16 yet. And Mira, dear Mira, had such Bella Swan moments that I'm having a hard time not putting her into the TSTL category. 

Bottom Line: Kill Me Softly was a book with a lovely concept but a crappy execution. Entire plot points were left hanging, other points weren't even addressed at all, and things get MAGICALLY solved in the end. The one thing this book has going for it is the world building. The MID I mentioned? well, the info it provided was a bout the coolest thing about this story. 
star2/3
Alex

July 27, 2012

Book Review: The Lady is a Vamp by Lynsay Sands

At First SightPaul Jones was desperate, there was no other explanation for the fact that he has kidnaped Jean-Louise Argeneau as she left her family's company Argeneau Enterprises. As a fellow scientist and employee of the company, Paul is privy to some secrets of the Argeneau family, like the fact that they are what most people would call Vampires. 

Paul doesn't have anything personal against vampires, and he doesn't really intend to harm Jean-Louise but he does need her help. Jean-Louise isn't happy to find herself tied up in Paul's basement, so her natural reaction is try to gain control of Paul so he sets her free... only that she quickly realizes she can't... and that can only mean one thing: Paul might well be Jean-Louise's Lifemate. The person most Immortals/vampires spend most of their lives waiting for. 

Now she wants to stay to figure out if Paul really is her lifemate, and to help Paul (particularly after she realizes of the reason why he kidnaped her). But there is the little problem that half her family are either Enforcers (Vamps Police) or involved in the Immortal Council, and they are not going to take well to the kidnaping, no matter the reasons. 

Second GlanceOops, I think I went a little overboard with the description, but I tried not to give any of the important stuff away. The Lady is a Vamp is the latest addition to the Argeneau and Co series, which spans over 15 books, since I have read most of them, I can tell you that this book isn't much like the previous ones, something that I appreciate since series this long tend to get a bit repetitive. 

There is a change in dynamics in this story, mostly because Jean-Louise is the vampire of the relationship - it usually is the guy who has to explain it all and convince the girl to like him - and that was a refreshing.

I was a little iffy with the whole kidnaping part but the author pulls it off (mostly because you are really convinced he didn't plan to harm her, really). And I liked the characters, particularly Paul. Jean-Louise not so much actually, I felt like she sometimes made mountains out of molehills.

Oh, and my favorite part was Julius Notte getting all worked up over an Italian football match (rest of the world football). It was so funny and adorable!!! 

Bottom Line: Over all, the Lady is a Vamp was a nice addition to the series and a good read, but it's not my favorite installment, mostly because I never finished liking Jean-Louise, and it was other characters that made me like the book. 
starstarstar
Alex

July 26, 2012

Speed Date: An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn


Current Cover
The Deal: Product of an affair between an earl and a lady's maid, Sophie Beckett was content enough living in her father's estate as his ward - as he could never acknowledged her openly as his daughter nor did he ever seem to want to - until her father decided to marry and bring home his new wife, who quickly realized Sophie's real identity. From then on her life became a little more difficult, until the Earl died suddenly, leaving Sophie at the mercy of his wife. 

Having spent the last few years as a servant in what used to be her home, one night Sophie has enough and in a single act of rebellion - with the help of the other servants in the house - Sophie decides she's going to go to a society ball. 

Benedict Bridgerton was attending his mother's masquerade ball as the dutiful son that he was when his life changed. As quick as lighting, he noticed a blond woman dressed in an old-fashioned silver dress, and he fell in love at first sight. Sophie knew she shouldn't be flirting with Benedict, and she told herself all she wanted to do was look around and enjoy herself, but she felt the same pull as Benedict and couldn't walk away... until the clock struck 12 and it was time for her to go home...

Original Cover
My Thoughts: An Offer from a Gentleman was the first Julia Quinn book I ever read and it remains one of my favorite. It's very much a Cinderella story, but one very well done. Both Sophie and Benedict are very distinct characters. Sophie is nice and fun, she has a good relationship with one of the earl's stepdaughters, and even though she knows her life could have been very different, she's not overly bitter about it. 

Benedict is part of a large and loving family, and he loves them all to death, but he also feels a little lost among their massive numbers. He's the second son - and some people actually do call him Number Two to differentiate him of his other siblings, and he's tired of being only number 2 or the Tall one, as his older brother Anthony is The Viscount, and his younger brother Colin is the Charming one. 

Sophie is the first person to see beyond that, and he feels such a connection to her and they really fall in love at first sight. But in romance novels nothing is ever easy, is it?

Many years since the first time I read An Offer From a Gentleman, it remains one of my favorite books. It's a lovely story to get lost in for a few hours. 
starstarstarstar1/2Personal Favorite
Alex


What's a Book Speed Date, you ask? It's a quickie review--about 150 words or so--of any genre book (variety is the spice of life, after all).

If you want to join in or just read other speed date reviews, check out The Book Swarm

July 24, 2012

Book Review: The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The Deal: Just moments before she was supposed to get married, Lucy Jorik came to the realization that she couldn't go through with it. So she bolted on The Perfect Guy and ran off, leaving her family and friends in shock.

At thirty-one, Lucy has spent half her life people-pleasing her way through life, ever since she and her baby sister were adopted by a world-renowned journalist and a former president of the U.S. she has felt like she has to be perfect and never cause trouble to be deserving of the love her her adoptive parents. 

So, running out of the church and hitching a ride with a biker guy who claims his name is Panda - and who might or might not be friends with her would-be groom - was completely out of character for Lucy. Or was it?

The Biker Known as Panda isn't sure. He had figured he would give the runaway bride a ride for a while, and then scare her into going back to her perfect life. But the farther away they are from Wynette, Texas (where the wedding was supposed to happen), the harder it's for him to shake her off. 

My Thoughts: I'm just describing about the first half of the book because there are plenty of spoilers if I descrive the second half. 

Last year I read - and hated - Call Me Irresistible, so when The Great Escape came out, I had my doubts about reading it but I was intrigued enough to do it. 

The story itself is very meh, Lucy and Panda (and by god I think that's the worse name EVER) were okay, but I didn't see any chemistry between them, they both kept too much of themselves hidden for so long - from each other and from the world in general - that I couldn't see them falling in love. 

Aside from that, the book is so cluttered with other plot lines. There is one about this fitness guru that is a client of/friends with Panda, and one about Panda's past that has to do with one of his neighbors. And then the neighbor has her own story about her past and a kid she inherited. And so on and so forth. 

So, I read the whole book and then the only thought that came to mind was Meh. I don't even remember the names of the other characters - like the aforementioned neighbor whose story I found the most interesting.

I don't think this is Susan Elizabeth Phillips at her best, but it was better than Call Me Irresistible, and that ought to count for something, right?

starstar1/3
Alex

July 23, 2012

Book Review: Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry

At First Sight: Violet Sutcliffe has never liked Martin St. Clair but for the last six years she has put up with him since he's her best friend Elizabeth's fiancĂ©; and she knows the feeling is mutual. They might not like the influence the other has over Elizabeth, but they are fully prepared to put up with each other in order to remain in Elizabeth's life. 

To Violet, Martin is stuffy, way too concerned about appearances and just plain boring. To Martin, Violet is a loud and strident party girl, and they really wouldn't even cross paths ever if it weren't because they both love Elizabeth. 

But when Elizabeth suddenly calls off the wedding and jets off to Australia on a private quest, Violet - while happy that Elizabeth is taking control of her own life - feels lonely and suddenly she finds herself thinking about Martin and wondering how he's coping it all.

Then, on a completely crazy impulse, Violet visits him at his job, and changes things between them forever.  

Second Glance: I was so surprised with Her Best Worst Mistake. It's a rather short book - around 170 pages - but it packs quite a punch. Sarah Mayberry very quickly establishes who Elizabeth, Violet and Martin are, and why they behave the way they do. And I loved seeing how Martin and Violet's relationship completely changed once Elizabeth was no longer in the picture. 

But it doesn't change in a way that they change who they are, they just start to understand each other better, and they also realize that a lot of the antagonism they felt toward each other came from sexual awareness and attraction. Not that either of them would have ever acted on it had Elizabeth not called off the wedding. 

An interesting thing, at least to me, is that Violet and Martin aren't attracted to each other because they are damaged people, but they understand each other because of the things they have gone through; yet those same things take a toll on their relationship and they have to work to get past them.

Bottom Line: With a handful of characters and a low page count, Her Best Worst Mistake became one of my favorite reads of the year so far. I enjoyed the contemporary setting, I enjoyed getting to know Violet and Martin and that the story very much focuses on them so even if the book is short, it didn't feel rushed. 

Favorite Quote: "I want you to be happy. I need you to be safe." - Martin
starstarstarstar1/2Personal Favorite
Alex

July 20, 2012

Book Review: At Last by Jill Shalvis

At First Sight: After a difficult childhood and youth, Amy Michaels decides to follow her beloved Grandmother's long-ago steps and go to Lucky Harbor, Washington - a place that once helped her Grandma to find hope, peace and heart.

Since she has no other guide than her Grandma's old journal, finding the exact route and steps hasn't been easy, which is why Amy - never one to stick to one place for long - can't believe she has stayed in Lucky Harbor for six months. She can't believe that she has made friends with fellow transplant Grace and the town's good girl Mallory, that she has a estable job and an apartment to call her own, but these are all happy surprises to her. 

A surprise of the unpleasant kind is how attracted she is to forest ranger Matt Bowers - an ex NAVY, ex SWAT officer who moved to Lucky Harbor trying to find some peace and quiet of his own. Matt is a frequent costumer at Eat Me, the diner where Amy works, and he also feels quiet the strong pull toward Amy but he has his own reasons to want to stay away from her. 

Until one day when Amy gets lost trekking through the mountains surrounding Lucky Harbor, and Matt is there to find her and help her out. From then on, their relationship starts to change in to something they tell themselves they aren't interested in but can't seem to be able to stop themselves from. 

Second Glance: There are some parts that I really liked about At Last - mostly the Chocoholics (Amy, Mallory and Grace) and Amy's quest to follow her Grandma's footsteps and find some peace and hope of her own - but there were others that didn't work so well for me. 

Over all, I liked the characters and I enjoyed seeing how Mallory and Ty (from Lucky in Love), Grace and Josh (from Forever and a Day) are an integral part of both Matt and Amy's life. I think that's another point I enjoyed as well.

But the actual conflict between Amy and Matt felt a little thin for me, I never really bought into it. They both have issues that come directly from their pasts but I didn't see what the big trouble was for them to be together, particularly on Matt's side. Also, the addition of a teenage runaway that Matt and Amy are trying to help? that felt a little convenient. Like let's throw this character to mirror/show some of the issues Amy has to work out for herself.

Also, and I can't believe I'm saying this but, I felt there was a little too much sex in this book, like I got to a point where I was speed reading the sex-scenes because I wanted the story to keep on moving. The scenes were well written and all but they felt a little repetitive. 

Bottom Line: For all of what I've said you might think I didn't enjoy this book but that's not really the case. While I don't think the story in At Last is as strong as the one in Lucky in Love, these are all nice characters and I was glad for the time spent with them, and I'm actually looking forward to the next book in the series, Grace's story. 
starstarstar1/3
Alex

July 19, 2012

Speed Date: Wish I Might by Coleen Paratore

No Clue what this cover has to do with the story
The Deal: Willa's perfect summer in Bramble, Cape Cod isn't going as perfect as she hoped for. Her best friend Tina is boy crazy and she and their other friend Ruby are making Willa feel left out. Joey, Willa's boyfriend, is spending the whole summer away from her in Miami. Even her new dog, Salty, has deserted her for a boy named Will*. 

Only that Will claims Salty was his dog first, and that Willa is actually his sister - something Willa can't deny as they look so much alike. What's more, Will is in Cape Cod on a mission that has everything to do with the birth-father they never met.  

And Willa has to deal with it all, largely on her own as she wonders how Will's mission will turn her life upside down, if he's right. 

My Thoughts: I'm a huge fan of The Wedding Planner's Daughter books, which followed Willa's adventures when she was younger. Sadly, I can't say I find this second set of books - about Willa's teenage years - to be quite as charming.

Willa is growing up, and some of her more lovely traits as a kid don't translate so well now she's a teenager and she often comes off as naive, goody-goody and a bit too perfect. I still like her and her love of books and all, but she is a bit too sweet sometimes. 

She's alone a lot in this book too, and I sort of missed the Willa of previous book who was always trying to help other people, she's no longer quite the cupid she used to be and that takes away some of the whimsical aspects that I used to love so much about the series. 

I'm curious about the next book, though (From Willa, With Love) even this this particular book, Wish I Might, wasn't my favorite of the series. 

Favorite Quote: "Enjoy it, little girl, enjoy it. Every little spark, every second.
You'll grow up soon enough, and nothing will feel simple again." - Willa.
starstarstar
Alex


What's a Book Speed Date, you ask? It's a quickie review--about 150 words or so--of any genre book (variety is the spice of life, after all).

If you want to join in or just read other speed date reviews, check out The Book Swarm

*Call me crazy, but during Forget me Not, the previous book of the series, I never got the feeling that Will was quite as old as 17. But suddenly, in this book he is, yet he still sounds like he's Willa's own age (14), actually.

July 18, 2012

The Girl Games Blog Tour - Character This or That and Giveaway!!!


Hello everyone!! On the occasion of the release of The Girl Games - the first Goddess Girls Super Special edition featuring Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite and Persephone all at the same time! - I'm happy to welcome Goddess Girl Artemis who's going to play This or That with us!

Without further ado, lets jump right to it. 

Artemis answers This or That

Dogs or Cats? Dogs, of course. I’ve got three of them: Amby, a beagle, Nectar, a greyhound, and Suez, a bloodhound. (Suez is Zeus spelled backward.) Aphrodite and Persephone might disagree with me, though. They’ve both fallen crazy in love with a black and white kitten named Adonis. They fight over him all the time. And they’re keeping him a secret from Principal Zeus. I do not see a good end to this.

Fruits or Vegetables? What’s a vegetable? No, seriously. I’m not fussy about food. I like everything. Except maybe broccoli. Apples are my favorite fruit. I’d try to shoot one off the top of Apollo’s head if he’d let me. He says my aim with a bow and arrow is good, but he still wouldn’t trust me not to miss. Humpf.

Hugs or Kisses? Usually I’m not a big fan of either. Only I wouldn’t mind a hug or kiss from Actaeon. So far we've only held hands a few times. I wish I knew how he really felt about me.

Sunrise or Sunset? Sunrise. Before everyone else is up. Out of one of the trails below Mount Olympus with just my dogs.

Half-Full or Half-Empty? I’m confused. Are we talking about my quiver here? It only needs to be half-full to hold my three silver arrows. Those are the ones I intend to use to beat that boyfriend-stealing Amazon, Penthesilea, in the archery event in the Girl Games.

Scream or Cry? Scream. Like this: “Back off. Actaeon’s my crush!” But I never do it out loud. Only inside my head. 

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For a chance to win a Copy of The Girl Games and a (super cute) bookmark, use the form below, and remember: 
No need to be a follower to enter.
Must be 13 years old or older
Must have US/Canada Shipping Address. 
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Click HERE for further and previous stops of this tour!

July 17, 2012

Book Review: Just Say Yes by Phillipa Ashley


At First Sight: Lucy Gibson's life changed the moment hunky Nick Laurentis followed her out of the sandwich shop where he worked and asked her out, and soon she finds herself in a 'relationship'.

Lucy has her reservations - she doesn't really know much about Nick and their first couple of dates went really badly (as in they didn't happen 'cause he messed up) - but she tells herself she doesn't really want a relationship, but she's not against taking advantage of Nick's gorgeous body.

Things go well enough for a time, until Nick enters Hot Shots - a low-budget reality TV show - and actually wins. Suddenly he's proposing in front of a live audience and Lucy is left in the spotlight.

With the paparazzi following her around, and everyone against her because she turned Nick down, Lucy decides to escape with her best friend Fiona to a cottage in Cornwall.

There she meets Josh, a windsurfer who is trying to make something of himself after spending most of his youth getting by on his looks and doing the bare minimum. Soon Lucy and Josh hit it off, but there is one small problem: Josh's bitchy fiancé Sarah.

Second Glance: Just Say Yes wasn't the kind of book I was expecting - at first, I didn't even realize it took place in England, for example - and for me it was more chick-lit-ish at times than actual contemporary romance. 

Lucy was likable enough but the way she acts around and about Nick made me think she didn't have a healthy self-esteem (sure, she tells herself she's using Nick too, but that didn't rub well with me either), plus Nick isn't nice or sharp or anything really, other than good in bed.

Also I felt like the pace of the book was a bit off, it took a long while for the story to get going as the first seven or eight chapters are ALL flashback/recap of Lucy's relationship with Nick, so I felt like I never really saw that relationship develop and a lot of it was glossed over, and part of me just plain didn't care about this relationship that was obviously over and obviously bad for Lucy. 

Josh was okay, but I didn't feel anything even remotely swoony toward him (he's not a bad guy, I just didn't see the appeal). He is nicer though, so that gives him points. 

I did like Fiona and Lucy's neighbor Charles - I usually found the scenes where he was in to be funny. 

Bottom Line: I wasn't crazy about Just Say Yes, I thought the characters needed a bit more development and the pace was a bit off but it's not a bad book and it did have some enjoyable moments.
starstar1/2
Alex

July 16, 2012

Book Review: Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt


At First Sight: Ever since her husband was lost at sea, widower Silence Hollingbrook has devoted her life to the Orphan Home her family runs in St. Giles, and to a particular little girl she found at her doorstep, Mary Darling. 

As far as both of them are concerned, Silence is Mary's mother, and she'll protect her with everything she has, even if that means striking a bargain with the notorious river pirate Mickey O'Connor. Mick claims to be Mary's father and that he left her in Silence's care to keep her safe, but now his enemies - and he has plenty of those - have found out and he has taken Mary to his palace so he can keep the baby girl safe. 

Silence doesn't like or trust Mick - having tangled with him once before with disastrous results - but her love for Mary makes her follow her to Mick's lair, just as he planned. Ever since that night when they struck a bargain that shattered Silence's reputation, he has been fascinated by her and will not rest until she's truly and forever in his grasp.

Second Glance: Though Elizabeth Hoyt has written some of my most favorite books ever, I've been struggling with her Maiden Lane series. I thought the first book, Wicked Intentions,  was okay, not nearly as good as I expected but OK enough. I could never get into the second book - Notorious Pleasures - because I just didn't connect with the characters. Still, I was so excited about Scandalous Desires since it featured a pirate.

And yeah, I liked Scandalous Desires more than I did Wicked Intentions but it was far off from the books I love the most from this author. Mick's past was a bit contrived and I'm not sure I believed it all the way - maybe believed it's not the word, I guess I just didn't care, and it's his past that's fueling the story.

Silence was likable and I enjoyed seeing her take care of Mary and how she starts to make a little place for herself at Mick's palace. But I don't care about her family - and from what I see many of the future books will be about her family - and she has a tendency to run after Mick a lot. 

Also there is this thing that really annoyed me, it regards Mick and his pirating and the dumb reasons he has not to quit and what ends up happening in the end, it felt like a bit of a cope out. 

Bottom Line: Scandalous Desires is an okay read, it's well written and the premise is interesting enough but it's not the best by this author and I actually don't think I'll be continuing with this series. 
starstar2/3
Alex

July 14, 2012

Book Review: Missing You by Meg Cabot

In the spirit of the Meg-A-Readers Blog Hop, I'm going to be reviewing one book by Meg Cabot every sunday for the duration of the event!

I think this might be one of the last ones I do, so I wanted to review Missing You, the last of the books in the 1-800-Where-R-You series and one of my favorite.  


The Deal: Jess Mastriani - the once well known psychic who could find anyone in her sleep - has lost herself. After a year working for the FBI and helping catch bad guys, she was struck by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as swiftly as she was once struck by lighting and now she can't sleep well, so she can't find anyone. 

Instead, she's focusing on living a 'normal' life in New York, where she is attending Julliard and living with her best friend Ruth, trying to put her past behind her. Until Rob Wilkins shows at her doorstep with a strange request: that Jess helps him find his sister. 

Jess isn't happy to see Rob - when she first returned from her stint working for the government, things didn't end well between them - but she can't say no, and soon finds herself up to her old tricks. 

My Thoughts: I can't tell you how much I waited and wished and hoped for Missing You. When I first began to read the 1-800-Where-R-You, the series stopped with book four, Sanctuary, but if you have read that book you realize that a few things are left hanging there.

Those lose ends were tied quite well in Missing You. It addressed the downfall and price that Jess had to pay in exchange of a gift that she didn't want or ask for, it addressed her relationship with Rob and with her parents - particularly with her mom who was always trying to make her be someone she wasn't, even if she meant well - and also makes her realize what is it that she really wants in her life, and what she doesn't. 

Missing You is a great conclusion to one of my favorite series by Meg Cabot, and for me it was definitely worth the wait. Jess and Rob are still one of my favorite couples and I loved being back in Jess's small Indiana town. Oh and I loved seeing how Douglas moved on with his life and learned to live his his disease. 
starstarstarstar1/2Personal Favorite
Alex