August 31, 2009

List Maniac # 2 - Dogs!

Okay, so I’m a huge fan of dogs in books – of animals in general – and so I decided to make a list of my top 5 favorite books that feature dogs!

5. Saving Grace by Julie Garwood – Dumfries the Hound (I’m pretty sure he’s a wolfhound but I don’t have my book right here so I can’t check). Dumfries is the hero’s dog. Gabriel McBain is a big, strong warrior and Dumfries is a big, strong dog, full of bluster and growls, so it’s understandable that Johanna, the heroine, is a bit wary of both of them (especially since her previous husband was physically abusive) but soon she learns that just as Gabriel is a teddy-bear at heart, Dumfries isn’t terrifying at all. There is a great scene when Dumfries gets hurt and Johanna takes care of him. Very heartwarming. 
Raven Prince4. The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt – Jock the Mutt. Jock is a big, scary and kind of ugly dog, not unlike his master Edward de Raaf, Earl of Swartingham; but, unlike its master, Jock is a silly sweetheart not-so deep down. In The Raven Prince, Jock indirectly serves to show a lot about Edward that one might not know otherwise – Edward has quite a bad temper, and no one but his heroine, Anna Wren, and his closest friends Simon and Harry ever stand up to him – like his kindness. Memorable scene when Jock – whom until that point was simply called Dog – picks his name and decides to answer Anna’s summons and in the process foils Edward’s plans (read the book, you’ll understand).
Love Alt
3. Love and Other Four-Letter Words by Carolyn Mackler – Moxie the Chocolate Lab & Dogma the Jack Russell Terrier. Moxie and Dogma belong to Sammie and Phoebe respectively, and their friendship goes hand in hand with that of the girls.
In Love and Other Four-Letter Words, Sammie has just moved to Manhattan when she and Moxie meet Phoebe and Dogma at a dog run and the four of them become fast friends. Moxie, Phoebe and Dogma become Sammie’s sanity line in a crazy summer of changes and new beginnings.
Memorable scenes: any time Phoebe talks about her sixth sense to know what kind of dog a person would be.

To Seduce a Sinner2. To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt - Sir Mouse the Terrier. Sir Mouse is, as his owner calls him, a Gentleman Dog. He belongs to Melisande and has been her dearest friend since she saved his life when he was just a puppy. Sir Mouse has a temper, loves cheese and is incredibly protective of Melisande. A memorable scene in to Seduce a Sinner is when Jasper, Lord Vale (Melisande’s husband) first meets Mouse, who introduces himself by stealing Vale’s bacon right out of his hand.

Anyone But You1. Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie – Fred the B&B. There is a reason why Anyone But You is often known as Fred’s Book, and that is because Fred, as his owner describes him, is part Basset, part Beagle and part Darling. Now, don’t let that fool you into thinking Fred is a perky, cute little thing, in fact Fred is a middle aged, overweight dog who’s depressed or morose most of the time. Fred’s owner, Nina, goes to the pond to adopt a perky little puppy as a birthday present for herself to celebrate her turning forty and the finalization of her divorce, but she gets Fred instead. Why? Because she sees a lot of her self in Fred: both of them are pass their prime and both of them need love.

Special mentions for To Beguile a Beast also by Elizabeth Hoyt, Kristan Higgins’ books, and Meg Cabot’s Boy Next Door.

Well, there you have it! And remember that, as Phoebe would say, God spelled backward says DOG!


August 30, 2009

The Debs by Susan McBride

Each year, the exclusive Glass Slipper Club of Houston selects ten girls on their senior year of high school to become that year's debutante crop and become a Rosebud, as the debutantes are called.

Laura has always wanted to be a Rosebud, her mother was one and usually that would mean she's one shoe in, but her standing comes into question since she's a size 12 rather than a 2 and though she's pretty and rich, one just never knows. To add to that, there is Avery, a boy she loves and whom she thought loved her back... only that he never seems to stick around.

Mac - one of Laura's best friends - isn't so sure about being a Deb, she knows that's what her decesed mother wanted for her, but she's having a hard time bringing herself to care; especially since it would mean spending a lot of time with her new stepmother Honey (a former beauty queen).

Laura and Mac's other best friend Ginger is having some trouble of her own, namely the fact that she always seems to pick the wrong guy and land in trouble.

Then there is Laura's nemesis Jo Lynn who will stop at nothing to make sure Laura won't make it to this year's debutant list. Jo Lynn is a former pagenet queen who loves to win, win, win. And hates Laura - mostly for being a size 12 and not caring about it, which I found kind of ridiculous - she also has a bit of boy trouble... could it be her boyfriend, Golden Boy Dillon just doesn't find her attractive anymore?

Well, that's that settling for The Debs, taking place in the days before the official Rosebud list goes out. I didn't like this book much. I felt some of the characterizations were week, and I was seriously pissed off at the characterization of the guy Ginger likes - a Mexican transplant who aparently never learned correct use of Spanish because he said the most random and stupid things in Spanish (for the record, Mexicans don't talk like that) - but the overall writing of the book isn't bad.

It did leave me half intreaged about some things, I might read the second book Love, Lies and Texas Dips.



August 26, 2009

Wicked by Sara Shepard

WickedWicked by Sara Shepard is the 5th book in the Pretty Little Liars Series and, since this is not a series you can pick mid way, I'm going to assume you all read the first four.

Wicked picks up a few weeks after the end of Unbelievable, where A was unmasked. Hanna, Aria, Emily and Spencer are seeing a grief counselor to try to get some closure over Ali's death even as the trial of her alleged murderer is about to start.

For a while, the girls have been thinking that the whole A mess is done and over with, but soon a New A starts to send them creepy notes - and pictures - as they all begin to get into trouble anew.

Emily is confused about who she is these days, especially after she meets a cute boy at church and realizes she's attracted to him (even though for the first four books she was struggling with the idea of being gay). Aria meets a guy at an art gallery who later turns out to be dating her mother. Hanna is determined to get back to the top of the Rosewood Day food chain. And Spencer is still facing the consequences of the Golden Orchid debacle when her grandmother dies and leaves off her will... which in turn plants a seed of doubt inside of her about her standing as a Hastings.

Of the four ongoing story lines, I found Spencer's the most interesting (I'm starting to like her, actually, since the previous book Unbelievable); I've always liked Emily because she's the least bitchy of the girls and I actually liked her new relationship with Isaac. Aria's constant interest for older guy is starting to bug the hell out of me - it always lands her in trouble but she keeps doing it - and frankly I find it rather sleazy. And Hanna's character just seems flatter and flatter to me with each book, she only wants to be popular, no matter to cost or the detriments - the only time I've liked her was during Perfect.

That being said, the back story of it all - the Ali mystery - is still going with new clues and facts. I think I got my guilty guy already picked out but I shall have to wait and see if I'm right about that. Though, again, sometimes it feels a bit like a repeat of where we were at the beginning of the series.


August 22, 2009

His Secondhand Wife by Cheryl St. John

Secondhand wifeNoah Cutter is surprised when he finds not only that his younger brother Levi has gotten himself killed but that he also left behind a wife he told no one about.

Driven by his sense of duty, Noah locates Katherine and finds her working at a laundry house, poor and pregnant and without the support of her mother. So, Noah does the honorable thing and asks her to come with him to his ranch, where she and the baby will be safe and provided for.

Katherine isn't sure if she can believe Noah, after all his brother left her behind as if she were so much garbage, but something tells her that Noah is the only chance her baby has to have a good life. So she goes off with him to his ranch in the outsides of Copper Creek, Colorado.

Noah is a bit of the town's loner, he has had scars all over his body and part of his face since he was in his early teens due to an accident and, thanks to his not-so-kind stepmother, has always believed people are better off spared the sight of him. So, having Katherine move in with him is less than ideal, especially since he thinks she's pretty much the most beautiful girl he has ever seen.

After his stepmother, Estelle, drives the idea into his head that Kate could someday re-marry and take his niece or nephew away, Noah asks a still pregnant Katherine to marry him.

When most books end in marriage, for Noah and Kate it's just the beginning as Kate struggles to make a place for herself in Noah's life beyond being the mother of Levi's child - for a long time she thinks the Cutters don't want her, just the baby - and Noah struggles with the fact that he might be falling in love with Kate and the belief that she could never love him back, since she loved his handsome brother and there is no way he could compare to Levi.

This book is a definite hanky-read, I was in tears just a few pages in cried most of my way through, but the story is so wonderful I couldn't put it down. The romance grows slowly and sweetly and it's one of the best stories I've read lately.

Characters from Sweet Annie, show up and you do get a little update on their lives, which is nice.

Anyway, I'm in love with this book.


starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

August 20, 2009

Sweet Annie by Cheryl St. John

Sweet AnnieAnnie Sweetwater has always been different from the rest of her family and friends in the small town of Copper Creek, Colorado. She was born with a bad hip that makes her limp. Her family adores her but also are over protective of her, at times thinking of her as a doll rather than a person.

When she was ten years old, Annie met Luke Carpenter - who had just moved to Copper Creek with his uncle - and he made her two wonderful gifts: took her for a horse ride, and he treated her like a normal girl. Sadly, her parents didn't take well to Luke, and from then on they didn't let Annie have anything to do with Luke, even though they lived in the same town.

Ten years later, Luke owns his own livery, which he build on his own since Annie's father is the town's banker and wasn't inclined to give him a loan; and he hasn't forgotten Annie; in fact, he's more in love than ever. And it is her love for him that will give her the strength to finally claim the 'normal' life she longs for.

Oh, I completely loved this book, it's the first Cheryl St. John book I've read and it was lovely. The way Luke sees Annie for the beautiful person that she is rather than pass judgment on her for her physical imperfections made me fall in love with him as well. And as Annie begins to fight for what she wants made her a great heroine.

starstarstarstar3/4Personal Favorite

August 18, 2009

Sea Fever by Virginia Kantra

Sea FeverSea Fever by Virginia Kantra is the second book in her Children of the Sea trilogy, revolving around the Hunter siblings.

Single mother, Regina Barone has mixed feelings when the last eligible man in World's End, Maine gets married: though she's very happy for her friend Cal and his new wife Margred (from Sea Witch) she wonders if she'll ever meet the right man for her.

Dylan Hunter left the island some twenty years earlier, to follow his selkie mother into the sea. He returns to gather information on the doings of the children of the fire - read demons - who are trying to drag the children of the sea - selkies, finfolk - into their war against humans. Meeting Regina was not something he planed for, even though courting her gave him a good excuse to stay in the island without raising too many questions.

But Dylan doesn't do emotion - he's a selkie, he doesn't need to tangle himself with unnecessary human emotions - and Regina, though very attracted to him, has her kid to consider. Plus there is the present danger of a demon running around Word's End, ready to do harm.

Okay, so I enjoyed the first book and I was looking forward reading this one, mostly because I really liked Regina and her family but I had a hard time connecting with Dylan since for the most part he acts like a big baby and is so afraid of 'human emotion' that it gets annoying. The funny part is that Maggie was very similar to Dylan in the first book, and when she finally accepts her love for Caleb it was a "Yay!" moment, but with Dylan it was more of a "Grow up already!" moment.



August 16, 2009

The Bard Academy Series by Cara Lockwood

WutheringLettermanMoby Clique

After crashing her father's car and putting a few chargers into her step-mother's credit card, Miranda Tate gets sent to the Bard Academy, settled in a small island off the coast of Maine. Beyond the natural annoyance Miranda feels at being sent to what she sees as 'reform school' when the whole thing wasn't even really her fault, there is something very strange about Shipwreck Island, the Bard Academy and it's teachers, not to mention Heathcliff, a guy she meets there and who's Wuthering Heights' Heathcliff come to life.

See, one of the best kept secrets of Bard Academy is that, in reality, it's faculty is made out of famous authors who died untimely deaths (like Virginia Woof, Sylvia Platt, Hemingway, etc.), but now Miranda, her friends Hannah and Samir and her roommate Blade, know the secret and they also find out that Miranda is partially fictional, related to Heathcliff's beloved Cathy in Wuthering Heights.

Okay, I spoiled a little right there. Sorry.

Anyway, as the books progress we find out more about the fictional realm and what the ghostly faculty is capable of for good and bad.

I've been pimping this series ever since I discovered it last year - shortly after the last book, Moby Clique was published - and I absolutely love it. Miranda is a great protagonist funny and smart. And Heathcliff makes one heck of a hero/love interest.

When I picked up the first book I couldn't put it down and less than a day later I was already ordering the other too. And I'm still crazy mad at MTV Books for not putting out more of them even though there is still a ton of story to tell.

So, I'm going to cut it here before I go into one of my MTV Books hate fests.

But before that allow me to completely recommend this series, specially if you're looking for some paranormal/teen book with romantic elements and WITHOUT vampires.

AnimeGirl's Personal Favorite Personal Favorite

August 13, 2009

Book Review: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Along for the RideEver since her parents began to fight and got divorced, Auden can't sleep at night, and spends her nights studying and doing what she can to earn academic greatness.

When her new half-sister is born, Auden decides to go visit her father for the summer, arriving at the beach town of Colby, North Carolina, to find her stepmother Heidi struggling with the baby while her father works on finishing his book (something he has been doing for the past 10 years or so).

As Auden stays and starts to bond with her sister, and later even a with Heidi - whom she always thought was a bit of a bimbo - she gets a job in Heidi's store Clementine's and, after a surprise visit from her mother (who is that kind of feminist woman who isn't really all that kind to women in general), Auden begins to bond with the other girls who work at Clementine's: Leah, Esther and Maggie.

But it's Eli, a fellow insomniac, who helps her embark on a quest to finally get all those childhood experiences she missed out while trying to be a little adult for her parents, and kind of teaches her it's never to late, not even to learn how to ride a bike.

Okay, so I'm a Sarah Dessen fan, but this book just didn't finish clicking for me. I never grew to like Auden's parents, and though Eli and Auden spent a lot of time together I wished there was more. And well, lastly, I couldn't entirely buy Auden's friendship with Leah, Esther and Maggie in the way I could, for example, completely believe Macy befriending the Wish Catering crew in The Truth About Forever, or Isabel and Morgan taking Colie under their wing in Keeping the Moon.

Even so, I applaud Sarah's skill because, even with all of those pet peeves, the book is good. It just doesn't happen to be my favorite book by her.



August 12, 2009

Catch of the Day by Marcia Evanick

Catch of the Day
In order to fulfill her life long dream of owning her own restaurant, chef Gwen Fletcher moves to the small town of Misty Harbor, Maine. There she plans to open Catch of the Day... as soon as she can get the building fixed up and clean.

To that effect, Gwen hires carpenter Daniel Creighton, who sets about turning Gwen's dreams for her restaurant a reality, even as they reluctantly fall in love with each other.

In a town where single women are in high demand, Gwen has a bevy of admirers and suitors but none of them capture her interests as Daniel does. Daniel, on the other hand, is still reeling from something that happened some five years ago, when his fiancee left him and he got the scar that now crosses his cheek.

Throw in a couple of hunky viking twins, Daniel's grandfather Jonah and Hunter - a war vet who's finding his groove in the kitchen - and lots of small town charm and you get Catch of the Day. A really enjoyable book, which is not to say that I didn't have a couple of pet peeves with it but, over all, a nice read.




PS -this book is the first one in the Misty Harbor/Fletcher Sisters Series, though it can be read on it's own.