May 26, 2008

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Lock and KeyLock and Key, by Sarah Dessen

Ruby's mother is gone and for two months Ruby has been managing on her own trying to keep up with the bills and rent and trying to stay at the yellow house. But when she's found out -thanks to her very nosy landlord - Ruby is sent to live with her sister Cora, whom she hadn't seen in 10 years, and her husband Jamie.

Cora and Jamie try to give her everything she could possibly want or need: a room in a big, fancy house, a place at a elite private school and all type of security; but all Ruby really wants is to be left alone, thinking that Cora, whom during their shared childhood, had been her champion had just abandon her years earlier to go and make her own life.

Well, things aren't exactly as they seem.

Slowly, Ruby begins to accept the help she was sure she didn't need or want, and begins to reach out to people: to her sister and Jamie, the new friends she's making and to Nate, the popular boy next door who might be in need of some help himself.

I have read all of Ms Dessen's books and it never fails to amaze me how good they are, the writing is just plain good. She writes teens that you can believe and relate too with actual problems and no facsimiles solutions. Many cameos from previous books show up, as always just to light up the page without distracting from the actual story.

A very enjoyable read, with lovable characters, a good plot and nicely executed.


May 25, 2008

Sleepless at Midnight by Jacquie D'Alessandro

Sleepless at Midnight
Mathew Davenport-Lord Langston is looking for a bride... and maybe for something else. As he doesn't have much time, he invites to his country estate three women he thinks will make acceptable brides: Lady Julianne, Lady Emily and Lady Carolyn and, though she isn't in the prospective bride list, Miss Sarah, Lady Carolyn's younger and plainer sister.

The above mentioned ladies happen to be good friends and call themselves the Ladies Literary Society of London, they get together and talk about books they shouldn't be reading but enjoy anyway. Their first pick is Frankenstein.

On the night of their arrival to Lord Langston's estate, they gather together in Sarah's bedroom and discuss the book, pointing out how the night is a stormy one like the one in which Frankenstein created his 'monster'. They all get a little chill, but go on their merry way after finishing their discussion. Moments later, when Sarah is once again alone in her room, she looks out the window and sees a man walking towards the house, shovel in hand... a thunder lights the sky and she's able to identify their host, Lord Langston.

What's Lord Langston up to? Besides trying to get a wealthy bride to salvage his family's indebted estate. Is he, perhaps, doing some Frankenstein-like experiments?

Sarah doesn't know, but she certainly is intrigued.

Sleepless at Midnight is the first book of Ms D'Alessandro new series Mayhem in Mayfair.

Now, to be honest, I have been seeing Jacquie D'Alessandro books on the shelves since I was a kid, but I never picked one up. It was by mere chance that I came upon Sleepless at Midnight and I thought: sounds good, why not?.

I was not disappointed.

Ms D'Alessandro writes with a fun warmth that reaches you across the page, Mathew and Sarah are engaging and endearing, their problems are 'real' not just plot devices, and there are definitely some laugh out loud moments in this one.

The main couple, Sarah and Mathew, are well thought out and remain front and center through out the story, the supportive characters are also strong but remain in a second plane, waiting to take the stage as the series progresses. Ms D'Alessandro does a great job here, she introduces all the players but keeps the focus on the main couple all the time; giving just enough glimpses of the others to pique one's curiosity but without feeling like a set up.

Over all I really liked this story. The bath scenes are just superb, I was having hot flashes all the while I was reading them.

starstarstarstar 1/2


May 17, 2008

Blue Eyed Devi by Lisa Kleypas

Blue Eyed Devil
Okay, first off, don't read if you haven't read Sugar Daddy unless you don't mind being spoiled about how that one ends.

Blue Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas.

Life was supposed to be a fairy tale for Haven Travis - youngest child and only daughter of the very rich Churchill Travis - but it never was so.

The story starts a few months after Sugar Daddy ended, with Gage and Liberty's wedding and Haven is having mixed feelings of happiness for her favorite brother and also a bit of jealousy: everyone in her family - her father, her brothers and aunt - love Liberty while they seem to take Haven a bit for granted, even if they do love her.

At Liberty's wedding, Haven sees the perfect opportunity to tell her father that she and her boyfriend Nick want to get married, and it doesn't goes well. In an effort to calm herself after the fight her Churchill, Haven goes off to the wine cellar where she meets The Blue Eyed Devil from the title, whom at first she confuses with Nick.

Hardy Cates is there to crash the wedding, he isn't too happy about it but can do nothing except wish Liberty the greatest happiness. Meeting Haven was a coincidence, a happy, red-hot one, but just that, a chance encounter. Life takes them to separate roads after that.

Haven elopes with Nick and they move to Dallas, at first things are okay but quickly things start to turn and twist until Haven finds her self in a nightmare of a marriage that ends in disaster a couple of years later.

Back in Houston, trying to rebuild her life and her relationships with her family, another chance encounter brings her and Hardy together again and this time Hardy isn't about just let her walk away...

I liked this book, I think Haven's character was well drawn , some people have said that they find difficult to believe how Haven would have stayed with Nick for so long at the beginning but I didn't. Haven makes sense, even in her mistakes she is warm and human and, over all, a really nice person who deserves to be happy.

I was also thrilled to see some old characters from Sugar Daddy who were shown in a different angle and in more prominent roles. I particularly liked the switch on perspective from Liberty in Sugar Daddy to Haven's in Blue Eyed Devil, specially about Churchill.

But, for me, and even though the book is Haven's story, the one who steals the show is Hardy. He presents a wonderful contrast of someone who is essentially good and a nice guy but who, at the same time, is willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants; he sort of reminds me of Derek Craven (Lisa Kleypas' most perfect hero, in my opinion) a little bit in that way: Good men, impossible circumstances yet they claw their way out of them until they get to a position where they are the ones calling the shots.

The only part I didn't like was Haven's boss Vanessa and how Haven let herself fall into Vanessa's power plays, that I did find to believe, specially since Haven identified the problem from the start, that's the part I didn't buy though I'll admit it was convenient plot-wise.

Todd, Haven's best friend, is also a great character, by the way, I just had to mention him



May 14, 2008

Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie

Anyone but You by Jennifer Crusie - Also known as FRED'S BOOK

Who's Fred do you ask? Well, that would be the part beagle part basset and all unforgettable dog that features prominently in this book; basically, he steals the show.

Not that the human couple isn't amazing, because they are!!

Nina and Alex live at the same building and so far they hadn't met, but when Nina - on her fortieth birthday - adopts Fred, Fred-darling wanders into Alex's apartment, via the window, and Alex has to return it; which prompts his meeting Nina. Alex is a 30 year-old E.R. doctor who likes his life very much, thanks, no matter that his family keeps pressure him to get a 'real job' like Cardiologist instead of joking around in the E.R.

From the beginning, Alex likes Nina; and he doesn't care she's 10 years older than him; he falls in love. And so does Nina though she's a little bit more reluctant feeling old and somehow not 'pretty' enough. Through a series of situations - and lots of Fred's melding - they get together.

And it's wonderful... for about a night.

Alex and Nina are both trapped in the ideas of what they think the other wants which quickly starts making them both miserable. Of course, thankfully, there is Fred to save the day.

The secondary are also worth a mention, Nina's best friend Charity and Alex's brother Max, as well as the upstairs neighbor; all bring warmth and humor to the story.

Jennifer Crusie is amazing!!! And Anyone But You is one of her finest jobs.

starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

May 13, 2008

Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock

Dairy Queen
It has not been the best of years for D. J. Schwenk, and the summer before junior year doesn't look like it's going to be any better. For one she's not speaking to her older brothers, star football players Win and Bill, her younger bother Curtis doesn't speak much at all and, since her Dad bust his hip months ago, D.J. has been pretty much doing everything at the family's Dairy Farm, which means she never has time for herself.

And then, Brian Nelson came along. The same Brian Nelson who plays QB for D.J.'s school's most bitter rival, Brian who was supposed to help at the farm but who quit the very first day after not doing much at all. Eventually he comes back and, after first thinking she would hate him forever - for all Brian was and represented not to mention the rivalry between D.J.'s school Red Bend and Brian's school Hawley - D. J. finds that he's actually the only person she can really talk to. And so, an uneasy friendship starts.

I must say that, for me, the book started a bit slow, but I had heard a lot of good stuff about it so I stuck to it, and I wasn't disappointed. The book progressed slowly as did D.J. and Brian's friendship in a way that was believable and true. D.J.'s voice is wise without her even noticing, which is nice.

In the end, it left me with a smile and I can't wait to read the sequel The Off Season



May 7, 2008

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

MemoirsOne second Naomi Porter, 16, was walking down the steps at her high school, carrying the yearbook's brand new camera next thing she knows she's half-asleep, half-awake hearing a guy she whose voice she doesn't recognize say that he is her boyfriend...oh, and her head hurts.

Soon she realizes she doesn't really remember anything after sixth grade, she doesn't remember making friends with her best friend Will, or why she wanted to be co-editor of the yearbook or why she likes her boyfriend Ace at all. Naomi can't remember a thing and all bets are off.

And then there is James, the guy who called himself her boyfriend that first day and who, with his hot and cold behavior towards her confuses and enchants her.

This book is a lot about what makes us what we are, all those memories and people who shape us and what happens when we forget that. Naomi is somewhat sarcastic through it all, but you do get a sense of her anger and her confusion and her fear. And even though she didn't know, entirely, who she was, her voice was one I could trust.

I'm not sure if I would like to have a friend like Naomi, but I sure wouldn't mind arguing with her from time to time.

A good read all in all.