February 28, 2009

The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Round ThingsVirginia Shreves is the odd one out of her perfect, successful, thin and dark haired family (even if her Mom's dark hair is less than 100% natural). See Virginia is larger-than-average, chubby, plump, whatever you want to call it and she has decided to live by the Fat-Girl-Code-of- Conduct, which tells her is perfectly okay for her to fool around with Froggy the Fourth at her apartment ever Monday afternoon and then ignore each other the rest of the week because, of course, he doesn't want to be seen with her. Who would? (I'm compeled to say at this point that Froggy isn't a bad guy, though).

But, in a way, that's the least of her problems: her older sister Anais joined the Peace Corps to escape their mother, her father is always commenting about how good 'thin women' look, her older brother is a rugby god (and Virginia idolizes him); and her mother is a successful teen psychologist who seems fixated on Virginia's weight because she was overweight herself when she was young (even though now she's stick thin and pretty much only eats lettuce and water).

Oh, and her best friend moved to Walla Walla, Washington for the year.

Virginia is routinely either ignored by her parents and brother or criticized because of the way she looks. Driving her to crash diets and binge episodes, as well to a couple of episodes of self-harm.

Things certainly don't get better when her perfect older brother Byron gets expelled from Columbia for date-raping a girl.

It's a lot to cope with but Virginia does it in an admirably way. She had me rooting for her as she began to understand that, because she was always thinking on what she could do to please her parents and brother to earn their approval, she never thought of what she really wanted to do. I loved how she gave an identity to the girl her brother hurt, instead of calling her "that Girl" like the rest of her family, she reminded herself she had a name.

And when she begins to rebel, to make new friends... I found myself saying "You Go Girl!"

I adored this book, I loved how Virginia didn't find easy answers, how it took work for her to be comfortable in her own skin; how her best friend stayed true to her even if they were so far apart. And how she emerged, curves and all, as a strong, young woman, ready to shake the world when she thought she had something to say.


starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

PS! Happy Cameo apereance of two characters from Love and Other Four-Letter Words, Carolyn Mackler's first book, which was very much welcome!

February 25, 2009

One Night with You by Sophie Jordan

One NightLady Jane Guthrie once loved Seth, the new earl of St. Claire, with all her heart only that instead of loving her back, Seth focused his attentions on her younger sister Madeline and, by the time Madeline's ambitious nature broke Seth's heart, Jane was nearly invisible to him.

After a loveless marriage, now a widow, Jane lives under the thumb of her brother in law, who would like nothing more than make her his mistress. Eager for a night of freedom, Jane accompanies two of her friends to an scandalous masquerade ball given by a notorious prostitute. Just is her bad luck that, at said ball, she encounters 2 men: Seth and her brother in law (who has a really funny name).

Trying to run away from her brother in law, Jane takes refuge in an empty room where she shares a heated kiss with Seth.

Seth, for his part, is in town with the sole purpose of finding a wife - the ball was an idle diversion - and he has only one requirement: that said wife will take care of his sister as he would himself - he feels guilty because of an accident that befell his sister when they were children; but then when he sees this masked beauty (Jane) in a golden dress he's drawn near - he nicknames her Aurora, by the way, because she won't tell him her name, obviously.

Next day he meets Jane in the park and he's inexplicably drawn to him too. Only that Seth doesn't care for Jane and her family given her little sister's betrayal of him (never mind that before he fell for the pretty face of Madeline, Jane was pretty much his best friend).

Anyway, after a bad encounter with her brother in law - with the funny name - Jane decides to become 'Aurora' again and goes to search for Seth and they have a clandestine meeting (read sex). And then Jane disappears and does her best to avoid Seth. Until she finds out she's pregnant.

I could go on, really I'm only about two paragraphs away from the end. But I'll stop myself.

The pace of the book is off, Jane's attempts at rebellion are lukewarm at best and Seth, though not entirely the worst of jerks out there, he does some pretty bad stuff to Jane and he NEVER grovels! This story was ripe for groveling but no groveling happens! At all!!!!

I thought I was going to like this book, I even cried a little at the beginning because, over all, Jane is pretty likable (as is Seth's sister Julianne); but then it started to get kind of... dumb. I was also very annoyed at the fact that Seth said the same things, word by word, to both Aurora and Jane.

This is the first Sophie Jordan that I've read, so I don't know how it fares in comparison to her other books but I don't feel motivated to read more.



February 22, 2009

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

SweetheartsOnce upon a time Jenna Vaughn was called Jennifer Harris, she was chubby and an outcast at her mostly-Mormon elementary school in Utah, and she had only one friend: Cameron Quick. But then, one day, Cameron didn't show up for school and a few months later some mean girl at school told her Cameron was dead, and when her mother didn't deny it, Jennifer decided to bury herself along with Cameron and so Jenna Vaughn was born.

Now, eight years later, Jenna is 17, lives with her mother and loving stepfather in a good neighborhood, and attends a small, alternative high school and everyone loves her, she's thin and popular and even has a boyfriend of her very own. Jenna's life is perfect except that there are times, like on her birthday, when Jennifer Harris comes to life and she has to admit that though she has changed a lot the past still haunts her; especially the memory of something that happened on her ninth birthday while she was at Cameron's house.

And the past takes a definite shape and form with Cameron returns from the dead - or California as it turns out to be - he was never dead, just gone... and soon Jenna has to come to terms with the person she was and the person she is now, she wonders if she's really happy, if her new friends really know her and if what she still feels for Cameron can be called 'love' when he hasn't been around for 8 years and might disappear one day just as he came.

As I write this I realize this book affected me more than what I first thought, Jenna's struggle to accept herself strikes a familiar cord and the truth is that I couldn't stop reading once I started. I don't think Sara Zarr's style is my favorite but it is compelling and it grabs you and doesn't let go.

I liked Jenna/Jennifer and Cameron and the decisions they ultimately made, though, as with Story of a Girl, there isn't really an ending but more like three hopeful dots at the end in a story that, once the book is closed, can go either way.


February 17, 2009

Death By Bikini by Linda Gerber

Death by BikiniDeath by Bikini is the first book in the Death by Series (followed by Death by Latte and Death by Denim) an introduces us to Aphra Conolly who, at sixteen, lives on a remote island resort her father owns.

On the surface it looks like a dream come true, with exclusive guests dropping by for weeks on end, and the beach and all, but Aphra isn't really happy, she keeps wondering why her beloved mother Natalie didn't come with her and her father to the island, why she hasn't contacted her in four years.

Then, in the midst of the low season, some mysterious guests arrive, The Smiths. Mom, Dad and Adam. Adam who's hot, nice and 17. Aphra is wondering if it's wise to get involved with Adam when he's going to be leaving soon, when one of the other guests turns up death.

Who exactly are the Smiths, and what have they to do with Aphra's mom?

Lots of dangerous secrets and one little island!

It's a very enjoyable book, Aphra is smart and capable if a little cold at times, and, like I said, 'Adam' is fairly likable, there are plenty of secrets going about some of which are answered by the end of the book while new ones arise.



February 12, 2009

Revelations by Melissa de la Cruz

RevelationsBlue Bloods Book 3
Since these aren't books that can be read by themselves I'm going to assume you read The Blue Bloods and Masquerade already (reviews of those here and here respectively).

So, Schuyler Van Alen isn't a happy camper, thanks to Charles Force's meddling, she had to leave her home and grandfather to move in with him and his family which include both his nemesis Mimi and her forbidden crush Jack; and she's forbidden from contacting her grandfather or best friend Oliver.

There is only one small scape from the oppressive Force mansion, on respite: An apartment in the Perry Building where she meets in secret with Jack, even knowing they are not supposed to be together, they can't help themselves. Especially after Mimi starts talking about renewing the Bond with Jack, which will make him hers forever (again).

Schuyler is confused and sad, especially after finding out that breaking the bond could very well land Jack in the same position her own mother, Allegra Van Alen is in - deep into a coma from which she can't or chooses not to scape - after breaking her own bond with Charles.

But soon bigger problems come in the picture, like what's brewing in Corcovado, underneath the statue of Christ the Redeemer... ancient secrets and betrayals of apocalyptic proportions. We finally learn who the Silver Blood is but that's just the beginning, leaving the door open for more questions.

I've to say that the big saving grace of these books, what keeps them from being this long, boring, vampire version of Romeo and Juliet, with Jack and Schuyler's impossible love, is the fact that there is a bigger plot, stuff is happening, interesting stuff. It's no that the love story falls to the back burner, because it is important to the whole plot, but in a way that it's not boring and instead is suspenseful.

I can't wait to read book four The Van Alen Legacy, and learn what happens next. I do hope we come to a conclusion of this narrative arch then because I hear we might see as much as nine Blue Bloods books in all, and I frankly don't think I can stand six more books of impossible love - but someone told me we are to have at least two more different narrative arches, so I'm crossing my fingers for a 'conclusion' to the Jack & Schuyler dilemma in the next book.



February 8, 2009

Book Review: I do (But I don't) by Cara Lockwod

Do but dontThe Deal: Wild hair aside, Lauren Crandell likes to think she has everything under control, she is, after all, the junior wedding consultant at Forever Weddings, doing everything short of standing on her head to make sure all her brides get the weddings of their dreams, even though he own perfect wedding ended in divorce a year ago.

So, as Lauren spends her days creating perfect days for others, she ends up meeting Nick Corona, a gorgeous firefighter who comes to the rescue during two of her weddings. At the same time, Lauren finds herself planning the wedding of the ultimate Psycho Bride, Darla, who is demanding, spoiled and might or might not be involved with Nick.

My Thoughts: My love for Cara Lockwood's Bard Academy Series not withstanding, I adored this book.

I do (But I don't) is a sweet and funny story full of misunderstandings (but not the annoying, that's so dumb kind), wedding talk and many mishaps big and small. I liked Lauren a lot because, even with her divorce and her insecurities, she hasn't given up on love and - though she can be very neurotic and makes mistakes - she's kind and likable.

Nick is an all around, honest-to-God nice guy - which in any way means he lacks character - and he had me sighing and wishing I met a guy like that too.

There are plenty of laughs as well.

I highly recommend this book

Favorite Quote:
"Because true love isn't about sheet music or embossed invitations or lace. It isn't about the size of your bridal party or the expensiveness of the food. True love is what you find when you aren't expecting it. True love is taking the risk that it won't be a happily-ever-after. True love is joining hands with the man who loves you for who you are, and saying, "I'm not afraid to believe in you."

A love like that has legs. A love like that will survive most anything.

Even a less-than-perfect wedding." - Lauren

February 3, 2009

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

It's the year 1889, we are in Manhattan and trouble is brewing. Elizabeth Holland is society's darling, the girl everyone looks up to and tries to emulate, perfect in every regard from the top of her blond head to the very helm of the pastel colored dresses she wears. Elizabeth's sister Diana seems to be entirely opposite to her perfect older sister; born a dreamer and a romantic she dreams of travel and adventures even though she just spent most of the summer at Saratoga while Liz toured Europe, she wants something to happen to her and soon, meanwhile she's happy to keep going on her quest to get the perfect kiss.

There is also Lina, Liz's childhood friend and now lady's maid; they used to be close, until Liz grew up and the differences in their stations built walls between them. There is something else between them, too: Will Keller, another childhood friend and now coachman of the Holland's... but of course, no one knows about that.

Father up town there is Penelope Hayes, Elizabeth's best friend, who sees Liz as her greatest rival, she wants to be the most envied and talked about girl in all New York and she can't stand Liz's being at the top of the food chain of New York's Society.

Things get a little more complicated when Henry Schoonmaker, at his father's prompting, offers marriage to Elizabeth - even though he was having a bit of an affair with Penelope just five minutes before - and, in the process, meets Diana who, to him, is ten times more lively and lovely than the perfect older sister that everyone toasts to.

Soon, scandal threatens to destroy the perfect mirages of New York's finest and, when it's all over, nothing will be the same.

I'm trying hard not to say too much about the story, so I'll stop there. But I have to say that I enjoyed this book far more than what I expected since everyone who had described it to me say it was like Gossip Girl in a Victorian Setting and I was never able to care much for Gossip Girl. The Luxe has a different feel too it, and I found myself caring quickly enough.

Also, it's takes place at an uncommon time, the dawn of the Twentieth Century, which adds certain romance to the whole story.

My favorite character is Diana, and I'm very much looking forward to reading Rumors, the sequel.



My Fingers Hurt

AGirlBut I managed to get a good deal done!
As you can see we got a brand new site, a brand new name and a brand new rating system. I've gone over all the posts to make it work... and now my fingers hurt from copying and pasting and adding stuff.

But I think it looks great.

Sadly, I had to close down the other blog because AdSense (which I didn't even want to add) screwed up my layout and wouldn't let me fix it.

But, I hope everything will turn out for the better.

So, make yourselves at home at AnimeGirl's Bookshelf!