April 30, 2010

Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts

Savor the momentRunning Icing at Vows, Laurel McBane is happy -working and living with her best friends Mac, Emma and Parker - and successful. A gifted pastry chef, Laurel gets to create wonderful wedding cakes for all sorts of brides and helps dreams come true.

Now that Mac and Emma are engaged, Laurel can't help but to think of the man she loves - the one she has loved all her life, and whom she is sure doesn't feel the same for her: Delaney Brown. Otherwise known as Parker's older brother, Del has been a main part of Laurel's life almost as long as Parker herself.

Laurel knows Del loves her... as a sister, he thinks of The Quartet as his girls, which truly infuriates Laurel from time to time. One of those times leading to a passionate kiss that changes the group's dynamics forever.

Certainly, Del isn't thinking of Laurel as another sister anymore but just as some crushes last more than others, some insecurities run deeper than others and they often get in the way.

This is the third story of the Bride Quartet, and it's a lovely addition to the series.

The story itself would fall into the "Slice of Life" catergory if we were talking anime, here nothing big happens -other than weddings - and no sudden, awful tragedy strikes, it's just a story of people dealing with their daily lives as friendship turns into romance. It takes skill to write a book like this and make it interesting, but it was interesting and funny and sweet.

Not all love stories have to be fraught with tragedy and difficulties, that doesn't make them less real or less exciting and Savor the Moment shows that.

April 29, 2010

In for a Penny by Rose Lerner

In for a PenyPenelope Brown is a rich heiress who meets Lord Nevinstoke by chance at a ball. During that brief encounter Penny finds out that Nev is a nice enough fellow and that he likes music as much as she does but Penny doesn't think much else of the encounter since she's well aware of the opinion the aristocracy has of her and her family - people who became rich in the trade (Penny's father owns a brewery) - and promptly puts the whole thing off her mind.

It would have died there if not for the fact that a few days later Lord Nev's father got himself killed in a duel, and left Nev broke, with the family's estate falling on his ears and in deep need for money.

Money that Penelope has in abundance.

So begins In for a Penny, a story where a chance encounter turns into so much. I hadn't read a "marriage of convenience" plot in a while and this book was a nice return to said plot.

I found Penny and Nev quite likable if a bit too dramatic at times, there were parts where the story felt a bit long and drag-y, but there are other parts that were quite delightful. I just thought there was a bit too much secondary plot. But, over all, it was a nice read.

starstarstar 1/2

April 25, 2010

The Comeback by Marlene Perez

ComebackSophie Donnelly has it all: she's the most popular girl in the school, her boyfriend Connor is handsome and together they are one of the IT couples at Kennedy High; and she's certain she's going to get the lead role in the school's production of Taming the Shrew. But when Angie - the new girl - shows up, she steals everything right under Sophie's nose leaving her without a boyfriend, without popularity and with the role of Bianca (instead of the Katerina one).

In a mad dash to regain her popularity, Sophie does everything she can think of to get back on top, at the expense of her best friend Monet, often exasperating Monet's older brother Dev, and basically alienating everyone around her.

I have to say that with this book I was swayed by the pretty cover, and from the summary at the back of the book I thought it might have some potential but it just never happened. The book starts okay enough -short chapters are a plus! - but Sophie pretty soon starts to read very flat, she doesn't even get annoying, just flat.

Sophie is not a good girl, she's kind of bitchy but she's not an evil mastermind like Regina George@Mean Girls, she just comes off as shallow. Dev and Monet often act like they got perpetual PMS, Angie is a flat 'nemesis' and Connor seems plain dumb at times. And everything gets fixed magically by the end.

Not a book I would recommend.

April 24, 2010

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

The ReckoningWarning: I'm going to assume you've already read the first two books of the Darkest Powers series.

After being on the run for several days, young necromancer Chloe Saunders and her friends werewolf Derek, sorcerer Simon and witch Tori, are finally safe under the care of Andrew (a friend of Derek and Simon's Dad) and his organization, a group of people who used to work for the Edison Group but that now are working to destroy them.

Things should go pretty well from then on, since destroying the Edison Group is high on Chloe's list of priorities - along with rescuing her aunt Lauren and friend Rae, and finding Derek and Simon's Dad - but pretty soon things start going south.

For starters, she's seeing a rather unpleasant ghost, Derek doesn't full trust Tori yet and he doesn't seem to trust Andrew all that much, either. Plus, Andrew's group is skeptical about their story and don't seem all that willing to help them out anytime soon.

To top it all off, and though the circumstances are hardly conductive of romance, Chloe does find herself between Simon and Derek (and I wish I could say more but I shan't spoil!!).

In any case, things are hardly what they seem at this 'safe' place...

Okay, so, I'm a fan of this series and it's proving to be very hard not to gush because I loved this book. With each book I have grown to like Chloe more - she starts the series as a very naive girl but by the time we get to The Reckoning Chloe, though basically the same person, is more assertive and she's willing to do what needs to be done to help those she cares about; and she's willing to admit when she makes an error of judgment and learn from it. And, I really liked how she learns to stand her ground with certain werewolf.

Derek is another of my favorite characters, I just love him - I think the scenes with him are my favorite, but I might be biased because, like I said, I love him.

I even grew to like Tori, who was not my favorite character in previous books.

As for the story itself, well it starts a bit slow as Chloe & Co are still trying to see how much they can trust Andrew and his group, and how much they are willing to help them. But when things start happening, they happen fast and it makes for one hell of a ride.
starstarstarstar3/4Personal Favorite


April 20, 2010

Something About You by Julie James

Something About You
When Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde decided to stay overnight at The Peninsula, she was hoping for a nice, relaxing stay at a fancy hotel but what she got was half the night of hearing the couple in the next room having sex and then unsuspectingly witnessing a murder (kind of).

Since the sex-marathon/murder involves an US Senator, the FBI took notice of the case, and just like that Cameron found Jack Pallas - the Special Agent that blames her for having him transfered out of Chicago three years ago - back into her life. Angry but Oh-so-handsome Jack who's too good looking for Cam's peace of mind.

Jack isn't any happier than Cam with this situation, he's still mad but more than that, Cam has been pretty much the only person to ever get under his skin and he isn't sure being around each other is all that wise. But Cam is the key witness in Jack's investigation and he isn't about to let anything happen to her.

Something About You is the latest offering from Julie James and it starts off quite nicely, I was giggling and laughing during the first third of the book, loving the dialogue and Cam's gay best friend Collin (great characterization by the way! Collin is very manly, very confident, not in the least effeminate, witty and fun. Definitely not a bad, cartoonish stereotype! Loved Him). But then the story sort of begins to drag... I could spot the plot twist a mile away, and I found myself speed reading through some places because I just wanted something to happen.

Again, it has nice characters - like Collin and Jack's partner Wilkins - but some others, like Cam's other best friend Amy, seem a little to convenient (situations revolving around Amy and her wedding usually just serve to further the relationship between Jack and Cam) and I couldn't like her.

Over all, the book is enjoyable yes, but I had no problem putting it down after the first third of the book because nothing much was going on.

starstarstar 1/2

April 17, 2010

As Seen On TV: The 100th's Let Down

I have to say that during the last month I annoyed lots of people by constantly squealing about upcoming milestone episodes of two of my favorite series: Bones and Supernatural.

bonesRight, I know the series in question couldn't be more different but I love them both and they both recently reached their 100th episodes... and they both left me wanting for... more.

Let's start with BONES, in the weeks prior to the 100th episode, there had been lots of talk about how this episode was going to be super awesome, how it was going to rock the socks off of the Booth/Bones shippers everywhere, etc. The episode tells the story of how Agent Booth and Dr. Brennan first met and as far as that goes it's okay, and it's kind of funny but, was this one of the best episodes of the season? Not in particular.

(For me the episode with Stephen Fry a couple of months ago was better).

supernaturalThen, SUPERNATURAL. Season 4 was amazing, and so far Season 5 is taking everything to the next level. I honestly think that Season 5 has at least two of the best episodes of the series (Changing Channels, The Song Remains the Same), but the 1ooth, while quite cool, was not the best of the season so far (and I expected it to be!).

Frankly, next week's episode "Hammer of the Gods" sounds better.

I guess that it all comes down to expectations. I expected more from these episodes because I generally hold these two series in a very high regard. I wanted GREAT and I only got Good Enough.

So, what about you? Any super hyped episode/show that has let you down?

April 15, 2010

As Seen on TV: Ugly Betty's Farewell

Betty Season OneWhen Betty Suarez, an unfashionable, plump and very smart girl from Queens, lands a job at MODE, The Fashion Magazine, her life changes in unexpected ways.

Often feeling - and looking - like an outsider Betty slowly finds her place at MODE believing in her boss, the editor in chief, Daniel Meade even when he doesn't believe in himself and helping him through a wide array of crazy schemes and mishaps (most of them orchestrated by the beautifully evil mind Wilhelmina Slater, MODE's fashion editor).

With the help of her endearing, loud and loving family, Betty stays strong, true to herself as she reaches for her dreams (she hopes to be a writer someday), even as she goes places she never imagined she would go.

About five years ago, when I first heard they were making Ugly Betty, I was highly skeptical.

I knew the story they were going to tell, years before I had seen then original Colombian telenovela, and later suffered through the seemingly endless Mexican production (and believe me, it implied suffering). I wasn't sure how well would Betty's story translate into a series.

From the first episode, Ugly Betty became my favorite version of this story. Why? Because even at the very beginning, during the first season when Betty wore hideous clothes and silly costumes, the show's runners gave Betty something I hadn't seen in any of the other incarnations of the story.

That something was dignity.

Last night I watched the last episode of Ugly Betty - Season 4, Episode 20 - and it was like saying goodbye to a dear friend. Betty Suarez sure worked hard for what she wanted and she was rewarded. I was quite happy with the fate of my other beloved characters from the series (wish I could say more, but I don't want to spoil. I will say that I think Wilhelmina's fate was the sweetest of them all).

As for Betty's fate - and Daniel's - the series left things in a very happy and hopeful place.

Going to miss you Betty.

Season Four

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Jessica's GuieJessica Packwood thinks herself an average teenage girl growing up in rural Pennsylvania, with a slightly crazy best friend and a crush on the nice guy next door, but that all changes when, on the first day of her senior day of high school, Lucius Vladescu arrives to inform her she's actually Romanian Royalty - a Vampire Princess named Anastasia to be more precise - and that they have been betrothed since birth.

Since Jess is a very rational, she obviously thinks that Lucius is just a hot crazy guy suffering from vampire delirium, even when her adoptive parents - the vegan Packwoods - tell her that Lucius is actually correct. So begins Lucius quest to bring Jess to the 'Dark Side'.

But there are darker, stronger and more devious forces at work here (mainly Lucius violent family), and Jess might find herself in over her head. Then again, that might be what finally forces Jess to accept where she came from and what she feels.

When I began reading Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, I was quite happy with it. I liked how, even though Jess acknowledged Lucius' attractiveness, she didn't intermediately fall into his arms; the author took time to develop their relationship slowly and believable, which was a very nice surprise. I also loved Lucius' letters, because they gave so much information about whom he really was, something you rarely get to see in this type of Vampire book.

Now, I do have to say that the book was felt long, it dragged a little every so often and I found the ending quite anticlimactic, a little bit over done.


April 12, 2010

The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

Next Best ThingBeing a widow has defined Lucy Lang's life for the last five years since the night her husband fell asleep while driving and crashed into a tree. But when her younger sister has a baby, Lucy realizes that she still young and that she wants babies of her own, so Lucy decides that it's time to get back to dating and finding herself a new husband.

And the first step toward finding a new husband is breaking things off with her shag-buddy, Ethan Mirabelli, who's her best friend and brother-in-law. Once that's taken care of Lucy starts her search for her a new husband, she has a few requirements - like high good father potential, and no risk taking behavior - and she doesn't really want to fall in love again, since it seems like the women of her family are doomed to be widowed young and Lucy doesn't want to face heartbreak again.

Okay, I've read several of Ms Higgins - even one that included a woman falling for her brother in law (Fools Rush In) - so I had reasonable hope that she could make it work, but The Next Best Thing just doesn't. Lucy has such an idealized version of her husband Jimmy in her head that really clouds everything, even the way she sees Ethan, both Ethan and Lucy get treated like second-rate offspring by their respective parents.

There is also Parker, Lucy's best friend and the mother of Ethan's son, who constantly encourages Lucy to give Ethan a chance. I'm sorry, but people aren't that civil. And I couldn't find any of the things I usually love about Ms Higgins books, like the friends and families of the protagonists, they just weren't there for me this time.


April 11, 2010

At the Movies: Clueless

CluelessWelcome to Beverly Hills and the life of Cher Horowitz, daughter of a rich lawyer, who lives surrounded by beautiful clothes, good friends and handsome boys.

As one of the most popular girls of her school, Cher is always busy trying to fix everything to suit her, which often brings her to play cupid for the people around her such as two of her teachers, which conveniently helps her improve her grades.

When a new girl, Ty, is transferred to Cher's school, Cher and her best friend Dionne immediately take her under their wing, giving her a hot make over and trying to help her hook up with one of the guys from their group of friends.

And that's when things start to get a little complicated for Cher as things don't go her way and she finds herself being rescued by her ex-step brother Josh - who is possibly the only person to ever tell her she's a bit superficial - much to their mutual annoyance.

But! Never forget, between love and hate there is but one small step.

Okay, so Clueless has been out for quite a while now and I have to say that, even though the movie's pop references date it a little, I still love it. Every time I see it I'm reminded of how bright and flashy the 90's were. I was about twelve years old when the movie first came out - I wasn't actually allowed to see it until it premiered on TV, because it was considered not apt for Tweens - and I remember what a craze it was.

Here in my country we usually got kid-movies or adult movies, and there was a huge limbo in between, Clueless was one of the first movies that main-streamed teen movies for us and it was just so much fun.

As lots of people well know, this is Austen's Emma re-told and re-vamped, and I consider it a must - a rite of passage for any teenage girl.

April 10, 2010

Saving Grace by Julie Garwood

GraceAfter three years of a hellish marriage, beautiful Lady Johanna was left a widow, and she would like to remain that way but King John has different plans for her. To avoid being forced into another awful marriage, Johanna instead follows the advice of her brother Nicholas and journeys to the Scottish Highlands to marry Laird Gabriel McBain.

McBain is regarded as a great warrior in the Highlands, and is laird of two clans: The McBains and the MacLaurins (he's the illegitimate son of the former MacLaurin laird) and though he wasn't particularly eager to marry an English noblewoman, Gabriel agrees to the marriage in order to secure his land - said land technically belonged to Johanna's first husband and then is given to Johanna as sort of a dowry.

At first, Gabriel doesn't think much of his new bride, for she looks small and delicate, hates the cold and seems timid, but she is very beautiful and shows acceptance of Gabriel's own illegitimate son Alex. Meanwhile, Johanna is a bit intimidated by Gabriel, especially since he's a big and strong man (much bigger than her first husband, who hurt her so much). But, in time, they both come to see what the other is really like: yes, Gabriel is a giant but he's also kind, and Johanna might seem fragile but she has an iron will and is very smart.

Saving Grace is one of the few medieval romance I've read and it's certainly one of the sweetest. I couldn't help to cheer for Johanna and Gabriel as they embarked in their love story; I admired Johanna's strength to fall in love after surviving an abusive husband and I liked that Gabriel didn't fight his feelings for Johanna once these began to surface.

There is also a rich cast of secondary characters, from Johanna's brother Nicholas to Auggie (an old man who enjoys playing rudimentary golf all day long) as well as Alex and even Gabriel's dog. And there are a couple of subplots through out the book - like the unification of the two clans Gabriel leads; and a secret Johanna knows -which add to the central story quite nicely.

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